• Artist, Peter Liashkov’s Lifelong Investigations of Post-Physical Being

    David S. Rubin

    Peter Liashkov, Shall (1967), acrylic, oil, spray enamel on canvas, 51 x 81”, Courtesy of the artist

    Over the course of five decades, Peter Liashkov has produced a significant body of works that he calls  “Sidelife,” a term appropriated from a collection of poems by the Romanian-born poet Paul Celan.  Comprised of paintings and drawings of the human figure, the series posits one of the most basic questions about human existence:  What happens when we die? (more…)

  • Jennifer Lantzas and New York’s Arsenal Gallery Experience—’Natural Impact’

    D. Dominick Lombardi

    The Arsenal Building. (Daniel Avila/NYC Parks). Located at 64th Street and Fifth Avenue in Central Park, the Arsenal is the NYC Parks headquarters, and one of two buildings within the park’s borders that predate the park itself. (image: NYC Parks)

    Jennifer Lantzas is one of those very important people you never hear enough about, someone who helps to fulfill our cultural and aesthetic needs at a time when urban living can be a bit challenging and at times overwhelming. As the Deputy Director of Public Art for NYC Parks. Ms. Lantzas is responsible for managing temporary public art exhibitions in city parks throughout the five boroughs, which includes such events as artist workshops, lectures and film screenings. Parks are our most important city refuge. They bring us back to a place of calm, when we can experience a slice of nature amidst the calamity of city life. By adding art carefully and selectively in our many beautiful parks, we can achieve a further enhancement of the spirit at a time when we need it most. (more…)

  • David Hockney at The Met 5th Avenue: “Intoxicating Exuberance”

    Charles Giuliano

    David Hockney, A Bigger Splash (detail), 1967. Acrylic on canvas. Tate, purchased 1981. © David Hockney. Photo © Tate, London, 2017

    While described as a retrospective in eight galleries with just 60 paintings, 21 portrait drawings and five of his ground-breaking “Joiner” photo collages the David Hockney exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met 5th Ave.) is a bit of a tease.

    It has been installed by Ian Alteveer, curator of modern and contemporary art at the Met, which collaborated on the exhibition with Tate Britain and the Pompidou Center in Paris. Through February 25 it remains on view in New York. (more…)

  • John Lithgow, Showing and Telling “Stories by Heart” on Broadway

    Edward Rubin

    John Lithgow. Photo: Robert Zuckerman

    For many a theatergoer, John Lithgow, the much-loved 72 year-old actor could read from the phone book and his legion of stalwart fans would gift him with countless oohs, ahs, and a standing ovation. In fact, given his four decades long award-winning Film and TV appearances—6 Tonys, six Emmys, two Golden Globes, Four Grammys, and two Academy Award nominations for The World According To Garp (1982) and Terms of Endearment (1983)—all Lithgow would have to do is walk across the stage and he would be greeted with a tsunami of applause. This is exactly what is happening every night at Broadway’s American Airlines Theatre where he is performing his one man show Stories By Heart through March 25th. (more…)

  • New York’s Belasco Theatre with ‘Farinelli and the King’: Rylance back on Broadway

    Edward Rubin

    Lestyn Davies in Farinelli and the King. App photos: Joan Marcus

    Even before Farinelli and the King, starring Mark Rylance, opened on Broadway at the Belasco Theatre, I was chomping at the bit in anticipation of seeing the ever brilliant Rylance unleash his incandescent magic once again. Winner of three well-deserved Tony’s, Boeing-Boeing (2008), Jerusalem (2011), and Twelfth Night (2014), an Oscar for best supporting actor in Steven Spielberg’s Bridge of Spies (2015), not to mention a number of Olivier awards, was enough to have me drooling. (more…)

  • Editor’s Letter, January, 2018

    Richard Friswell

    “What is honored by a country is cultivated there”    ~Plato


    Left: Artist Unknown, The “Cobbe” Portrait of Wm. Shakespeare (early 1700s), owned by Charles Cobbe, Archbishop of Dublin (1686–1765). Undiscovered until 2009.

    Greatness with Grace

    Editor’s Note: It is not ordinary policy at ARTES Magazine to take a political stance on matters, but given the emotionally charged environment in our cherished ‘house divided,’ we must occasionally speak out. Circumstances sometimes necessitate that we reflect on the dire cultural climate in which we, as artists, musicians and writers now find ourselves working. Common ground for those concerned with the arts can often be found in public gatherings, where shared values of open social critique, expository expression and challenged cultural boundaries are the common currency. These moments are rare and when they occur, we should rightly expect our nation’s leaders to lend credence to events honoring those who have devoted their lifetime to giving voice to our values as a People. The 2017 Kennedy Center Honors is just such an event; and while the awards ceremony occurred in early December, the proceedings were only just recently aired on network television. In response to the decision on the part of President Trump not to attend, Playwright Sarah Rule wrote an editorial that appeared in the New York Times on December 25th. It follows here, in its entirety, for your consideration.

    By Sarah Ruhl (for The New York Times Editorial Page)

    Dec. 25, 2017

    On Tuesday night CBS [aired] the Kennedy Center Honors, and President Trump [was] not be on the screen, because he declined to attend the event when it was held on Dec. 3 in Washington. What does it mean that Mr. Trump didn’t have the nerve, for a single night, to be in a room with artists who have criticized him?

    The president’s team claimed that he did not attend so that the artists could celebrate in peace rather than having a political distraction. But the president votes, as we all do, with his feet.

    Though the arts have never been neutral politically, the honoring of artists is a bipartisan ritual. The Kennedy Center was a place where the left and the right could agree that the arts occupy a central place in our culture, worthy of our attention and respect. Artists chosen for the Kennedy Center awards generally have fans on the left and the right and everywhere in between. The checkbooks of art patrons are not marked with their party affiliations.

    I came of age in the culture wars of the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan planned to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts, and, instead, ended up whittling down its budget by a small percentage. Still, in 1984, before putting medals on Arthur Miller and Lena Horne among other luminaries, he reflected on the way Americans had developed “a culture that was as fertile as this new land” and had continued to innovate in arts and entertainment.

    “And today our nation has crowned her greatness with grace, and we gather this evening to honor five artists who have helped her to do so,” he said. I never thought I would be quoting Ronald Reagan to make an argument for the centrality of the arts in American life — but his phrase struck me, during the bizarre cultural moment we are living through: “Our nation has crowned her greatness with grace.” Mr. Trump wants “to make America great again” without dissent and without the arts; but can one truly have greatness without grace?

    When President George W. Bush presided over the Kennedy Center awards for the final time, in 2008, one of the honorees was Barbra Streisand, a vocal critic of his policies. After Mr. Bush read her biography, he added, “She’s also been known to speak her mind.” The audience laughed, then applauded. Ms. Streisand later wrote: “President Bush gave me his signature wink and mouthed, ‘We showed ’em.’ I guess in some small way, he and I proved that we could agree to disagree, and, for that weekend, art transcended politics.” The wink and the joke were actually profound — they signaled a functional democracy.

    During his eight years in office, President Barack Obama could be seen one minute on Broadway with Michelle Obama, at August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone” or at “Hamilton,” and the cast of “Hamilton”could also be seen at the White House.

    I remember the Obamas appearing on a video feed at the Tony Awards to introduce and exalt “Hamilton,” and thinking: We are living in the golden age of theater. An age in which a poet-politician was at home with the great Lin-Manuel Miranda, who was himself at home with the sonnet form in an acceptance speech. This cultural flowering and embrace of an artist by a ruler made me think of the synergy between Queen Elizabeth I and Shakespeare. If “Hamilton” represented a national renaissance and a broadening of our democracy, where are we now?

    Shortly after the election, Mike Pence went to see “Hamilton.” Brandon Victor Dixon, who played Aaron Burr, addressed the vice president-elect after the show: “We truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and work on behalf of all of us. All of us. Again, we truly thank you truly for seeing this show, this wonderful American story told by a diverse group of men and women of different colors, creeds and orientations.”

    Does it get more Shakespearean than this? The actors speaking an epilogue directly to a ruler? Mr. Trump wanted the cast to apologize. Because, he tweeted, the theater must be a “safe and special place.”

    “Safe and special?” For whom? In an “us” versus “them” culture — when most artists have become a “them” to the ruler, what hope is there for gentleness in civil discourse, a welcome difference of opinions, multiplicity, empathy and grace?

    In dictatorships, the artists are often the first to go. Or maybe they are the third to go, after the press and the intellectuals. The refusal of the president to celebrate them is a chilling and clear departure from American values. Perhaps the Trumps didn’t want to compete with the Obamas, who at the 2016 Kennedy Center awards received the longest standing ovation of the evening.

    Mr. Obama met with Marilynne Robinson, a writer he admired, to interview her for The New York Review of Books in the fall of 2015. I think of a president with enough humility and curiosity to interview her — a politician-writer meeting a fellow writer on equal ground, discussing the virtues of the yellow notepad — and I want to weep.
    * * *
    Sarah Ruhl is an American playwright, professor, and essayist. Among her most popular plays are Eurydice (2003), The Clean House (2004), and In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play) (2009). She has been the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the PEN/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theater Award for a distinguished American playwright in mid-career. Two of her plays have been finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama and she received a nomination for Tony Award for Best Play.

    In 2015, she published a collection of essays, 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write. Her most recent play, For Peter Pan on her 70th Birthday(2017), premiered Off-Broadway at Playwrights Horizons. She currently serves on the faculty of the Yale School of Drama.

  • Cézanne’s Realms of Inner Space (fantasy on a chance meeting with Friedrich Nietzsche) 

    Richard Friswell

    “We philosophers are never more delighted than when we are taken for artists.”  ~F. Nietzsche

    “Painting from Nature is not copying the object: it is realizing one’s sensations.”  ~P. Cézanne

    “The living is merely a type of what is dead, and a very rare type.”  ~F. Nietzsche

    Chapter 1. La Recontre

    Pämierlieutenant Friedrich Nietzsche walked down the gangway into the bright Mediterranean sun, a battered valise in hand. The year was 1869. Scanning the busy dockside, he saw a sign over the customs house door announcing, ‘Marseille,’ along with a fingerpost directing travelers ‘ à droite’ for public transport to his next destination, L’Estaque. Conscription into the Prussian army two years earlier meant a brief return to active service as international tensions mounted, with a duty station assignment in Lucerne.  But in spite of his military responsibilities and ongoing squabbles among diplomats far removed to the north, Nietzsche intended to use his short military leave to seek the warmth and intellectual stimulation of this azure-drenched, palm-fringed coastal retreat.

    Above: Friedrich Nietzsche as a Prussian military officer (1868-69). 


  • Washington Stage Guild with ‘A Child’s Christmas in Wales and Other Stories’

    Amy Henderson

    Many of our earliest memories of Christmas are rooted in stories that made sugar plums dance in our heads. I remember being enthralled by having “’Twas the Night before Christmas” read to me, and later relishing Dr. Seuss’s tale of the Grinch (voiced by Boris Karloff) trying to steal Christmas.

    Left: Thomas Nast, Merry Old Santa (1863).

    Storytelling is essential to the spirit of Christmas, and the Washington Stage Guild decided this year to celebrate that spirit with a show that cobbles together several favorite Christmas stories in a holiday production called A Child’s Christmas in Wales and Other Stories. Dylan Thomas’s story takes center stage, but Artistic Director Bill Largess has also included Louisa May Alcott’s short “Merry Christmas,” Charles Dickens’s “What Christmas Is as We Grow Older,” “A Medieval Puzzle,” and A.A. Milne’s “King John’s Christmas.” (more…)

  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden: Mark Bradford’s ‘Pickett’s Charge’

    Elaine A. King

    Mark Bradford at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden with details of Pickett’s Charge, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: Cathy Carver.

    Mark Bradford uses the language of abstraction in his texturally layered paintings in which he combines collaged commonplace materials with paint. This celebrated African-American artist from Los Angeles since the early 2000’s continues to fuse his interests of cultural identity with abstract forms tackling a full spectrum of subjects including race, class, gender, aestheticism, or everyday life. (more…)

  • Washington’s Arena Stage- The Pajama Game: Warm Embrace for Cold Times

    Amy Henderson

    Britney Coleman (Babe)and Tim Rogan (Sid) in Arena Theater’s ‘Pajama Game.’ All photos: Margot Schulman

    Arena Stage is a stellar Washington, D.C. theater that regularly presents new productions of classic Broadway musicals. For the holidays this year, Arena is producing The Pajama Game. A smash hit when it was first staged on Broadway in 1954, The Pajama Game won Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Musical, and Best Choreography. (more…)

  • Washington, D.C.’s Hirshhorn with, ‘Ilya and Emilia Kabakov: The Utopian Projects’

    Elaine A. King

    Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, ‘The Ship of Tolerance, Zug,’ 2016. Courtesy of the artists and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac in London, Paris, Salzburg and Pace Gallery, New York. Photo by Luis Eduardo Martinez Fuentes.

    In May 1988 the New York Times critic John Russell wrote, “Ilya Kabakov is many things in one – a poet, a reporter, a storyteller in prose, a portraitist who never shows us his sitters directly, an environmental sculptor and an understated magician.” Having witnessed Ilya Kabakov’s ”Ten Characters,” at the Ronald Feldman Gallery, in 1988 and other constructions in Europe including the famed “Toliet” at Documenta, and “The Ship of Tolerance” at the Venice Biennale, I am in full agreement, that Kabakov is perhaps one of the most creative artists who continually expresses his humanist concerns through architectural quixotic realism, suggestive of the 19th century French utopian architect Claude-Nicolas Ledoux. (more…)

  • David Hockney at Eighty: Everything Old Is New Again

    Edward Rubin

    David Hockney, ‘A Bigger Splash’ (1967), acrylic on canvas. David Hockney Collection, Tate, London

    For a number of decades both the name and work of English-born, Californian by adoption, David Hockney, has been quietly flying under the art world’s radar, breaking all attendance records, despite a major exhibition at the Royal Academy in 2012 which included a gallery of works he had composed on an iPad. More than likely, the gently reserved Hockney was outshouted by the manufactured spectacles of circus artists’ billionaire Damian Hirst and half billionaire Jeff Koons, unarguably the two richest artists on the planet. (more…)

  • Washington Stage Guild: Onstage with George Bernard Shaw’s Widowers’ House

    Amy Henderson

    Scott Harrison (Dr. Harry Trench), Madeleine Farrington as Blanche, in G B Shaw’s ‘Widowers’ House’ at Washington Stage Guild. All photos: C. Stanley Photography

    Washington Stage Guild is a long-standing gem in the national capital’s sparkling theater scene. The repertory company was founded in 1986 in a derelict area of downtown Washington near the National Portrait Gallery. Traumatized by riots that swept through in 1968, the area was still dominated by empty spaces, boarded-up windows, and porn shops. Ford’s Theatre was nearby, but the Gaiety Burlesque house was a highpoint. Few tour buses lingered. (more…)

  • Washington, D.C.’s Renovated Freer/Sackler Galleries Unveiled

    Amy Henderson

    Detail, The Tibetan Buddhist Shrine Room for the Alice S. Kandell Collection Photograph: 2010. Objects: Tibet, Chine, and Mongolia, 13th-20th century Mixed media. Gifts and promised gifts from the Alice S. Kandell Collection

    The Freer Gallery of Art was the first Smithsonian museum to showcase art. It opened in 1923 to house the Asian collections of Detroit industrialist Charles Lang Freer, and in 1987 it was joined on the National Mall by its sibling museum, the Sackler Gallery. Closed the past eighteen months for renovation, their re-opening on October 14-15th was headlined as “Where Asia Meets America”—two galleries, one destination. (F/S press release, 10/11/17) (more…)

  • New York’s Friedman Theater ‘Prince of Broadway’: Lightly Skimming Legendary 7-Decade Career

    Edward Rubin

    Michael Xavier (center) and Cast in Company. All photos (unless noted): Matthew Murphy © 2017

    One might think after winning a record 21 Tony Awards for producing or directing (and sometimes both simultaneously) many of Broadway’s most popular and critically acclaimed musicals of the past 70 years, that the return of Hal Prince to The Great White Way with his latest venture, Prince of Broadway, would have been a shoo-in.

    The show is unabashedly a compendium of popular songs culled from his greatest hits like West Side Story (1957), Fiddler on the Roof (1964), Cabaret (1966), Company (1970), Follies (1971), Sweeney Todd (1979), Evita (1979) and The Phantom of the Opera (1986), – the last still up and running after 30 years and the longest running musical in history.

    But a shoo-in? Not so! (more…)

  • Washington D.C.’s Hillwood Museum, ‘SPECTACULAR’: A Jewel of a Show

    Amy Henderson

    Ruby and Diamond Hummingbird Brooch. All photos by Square Moose, courtesy of Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens (2017)

    Hillwood Museum’s new exhibition stopped me in my tracks. It had me at the title wall, which proclaimed Spectacular with elegant clarity. Would this exhibition live up to its title?

    Nestled in Washington, D.C.’s Rock Creek Park, Hillwood was the last residence of Post Cereal heir and General Foods founder Marjorie Merriweather Post. When she died in 1973, she endowed her mansion, collections, and gardens to “future generations,” and Hillwood opened as a public institution in 1977. In addition to her comprehensive collections of Russian imperial art and 18th-century French decorative arts, Mrs. Post created one of the most extraordinary private jewelry collections in the world. Hillwood’s exhibition Spectacular now provides a showcase for the iconic “grand pieces” she acquired over a 50-year period. (more…)

  • Stratford Festival of Canada with the Bard’s ‘Timon of Athens’

    Herbert Simpson

    Joseph Ziegler as Timon, and cast in Timon of Athens

    Timon of Athens has not been a popular Shakespeare classic: in fact, it has not been revived so often as most of his others. Its horrors are more melodramatic than tragic; and its comic elements are more bizarre satire than familiar foolishness. There’s a self-indulgent quality to Simon’s obvious pleasure in the abject worship he receives for his generosity when giving away his treasures to his grateful followers that undercuts our admiration. Then, as he loses his fortune and must ask for help from those he’d lavished gifts upon, we can smirk at their ingratitude and hypocrisy but are not filled with sympathy for the smug and vengeful Simon. Lord Bountiful becomes vengeful victim, and Shakespeare’s drama starts to resemble Moliere’s later The Misanthrope. (more…)

  • Silent Opera Over Venice: Richard Humann’s Augmented Reality at Venice Biennale

    Jesse Strauch

    The connection between the potential of augmented reality (AR), and art is a simple one to make—sometimes it only takes a ‘T.’ Yet as Richard Humann settles back into his Brooklyn studio after his nine-hour return flight, he can’t help but smile knowing he’s onto something considerably more complex.

    Left: Richard Humann, The Dogs of War (2017), Augmented Reality, variable dimensions

    “I don’t remember leaving it this way,” Richard says, setting down his laptop bag, “It’s remarkable how much mess it takes to get artists to their exhibitions.” However, this mess brought more than Richard Humann to the sun soaked waterways of Venice, it likewise brought “Ascension”, the first AR installation to premier during the Venice Biennale, in conjunction with the European Cultural Center and the GAA Foundation. (more…)

  • Now at Beers London: ‘Concrete Forest/Paintings of Kim Dorland’

    Emese Krunak-Hajagos

    Bay Blanket 3, 2014, oil and acrylic on linen over wood panel, 72×96″. All images courtesy of Angell Gallery, Toronto, Canada

    The artist, Kim Dorland caught my attention with his painting, Bay Blanket #3, in his 2014 exhibition at Toronto’s Angell Gallery. In this work, a young woman—the artist’s wife Lori—kneels on a bed in front of a wall covered with family paraphernalia, holding a Bay blanket to cover her nakedness. Her face and arms are created from thick paint that the artist has partly removed, so it looks cratered. There are heavy patches of paint on the blanket as well as the images on the wall. It is very physical, very energetic, and you can see the movements of the artist’s hand throughout as he layered and manipulated the paint. Somehow it is still able to capture that intimate moment, as the figure hugs her body and looks out from her surroundings. The multi-coloured, striped ‘Bay’ blanket is emblematic of the Canadian North and the other walls are bare, as a cabin might be. (more…)

  • Choreography as Portrayal: Dana Tai Soon Burgess at Washington’s National Portrait Gallery

    Amy Henderson


    Gobsmacked by an age enthralled with the immediate, “tradition” has lost its footing. Institutions built as permanent bulwarks of common purpose have been fissured by an appetite for what is happening in the moment:  NOW is desirable because it is instantly accessible and gratifying. Yesterday is not on the social media radar, and building old walls higher won’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again. It is the age of Elon Musk’s Tesla, not Henry Ford’s Model T.

    Left: Choreographer, Dana Tai Soon Burgess, has been appointed the Smithsonian’s first choreographer in residence.


  • Two Cheers for the Revolution: Telling Difficult Stories at Philadelphia’s Museum of the American Revolution

    Avi Y. Decter

    This exterior view of MOAR is about as inviting as its stolid massing gets. The architecture conceals rather than reveals the building’s subject. All photos courtesy of the Museum of the American Revolution.

    The United States was birthed in resistance, rebellion, and war. The story of the American Revolution, repeated, refined, and simplified over many generations, has become an iconic element of our national fable: our patriot “ancestors” resisted the tyranny of the greatest empire of its day, preserved American liberties, and established a novel kind of egalitarian republic. The catch-phrases of “the times that try men’s souls”–“life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” “all men are created equal,” and “the consent of the governed”–still resonate in our political and cultural discourse. And yet the story of the Revolution is complex and messy, full of sharp elbows and glaring contradictions, including the persistence of slavery, the dispossession of Native Americans, tensions within the states, among the states, and between state and federal governments, and a tendency to advantage our elites over our masses.  If ever there was a difficult, challenging story to tell, it is the story of our Revolution and its impact on subsequent generations, right up to the contemporary moment. In a sense, the story of the American Revolution, which is also the story of our first civil war, has always been contested and fraught. (more…)

  • Canada’s Stratford Festival’s ‘Guys and Dolls’: A Production Knockout

    Herbert Simpson

    Evan Buliung (centre) as Sky Masterson with members of the company in Guys and Dolls. All photos: Cylla von Tiedemann.

    Director/choreographer Donna Feore seems to have solidified Canada’s Stratford Festival’s standing as not only the largest and finest classical repertory theater in this hemisphere but also Canada’s greatest musical theater. This season’s superb Guys and Dolls may not be the astoundingly perfect production that her 2013 recreation of Fiddler on the Roof became, nor so daring a restaging as her A Chorus Line last season, but it may be more pleasing than either, and is certainly the all-around best version I’ve seen to date (and that includes the Broadway original). Following and completing the late Brian Macdonald’s transformation of Stratford’s masterful Shakespearean repertory artists into first-rate, Broadway-level singers and dancers, also, Feore has now demonstrated a repertory of Stratford musicals worthy of filming, touring, or reproducing worldwide. (more…)

  • Ai Weiwei: ‘Trace’ at Washington’s Hirshhorn

    Amy Henderson

    Ai Weiwei is a riveting artistic presence who raises hackles and hell wherever he can.  Born in Beijing in 1957, he studied at the Beijing Film Academy before moving to the United States in 1981. He soaked up the colorful life of New York’s East village, and when he returned to China in 1993 he became a major and disruptive figure in the contemporary art scene there. Ai relished antagonizing the repressive Chinese authorities, and the government in turn targeted his political activism, ultimately arresting him 2011. He was imprisoned for three months and forbidden to leave China until 2015. (more…)

  • Editor’s Letter: July, 2017

    Edward Rubin

    “We must first look, before we can see.” ~Henry David Thoreau


    Left: Isamu Noguchi, Mother and Child (1944-1947), Onyx, 19 3/8 × 12 3/4 × 8 5/8″. Noguchi Museum, NY.


    On Being Taught Not to Fly

    Another essay by art and theater critic, world traveler and ARTES contributing editor, Edward Rubin…

    It wasn’t until I visited the Doge’s Palace in Venice (below, left and right [detail]) and came face to face with “Paradise,” Tintoretto’s large painting that hangs majestically in the Ducal Hall that I discovered that Tintoretto was still alive. Here he was, some 400 years later, looking down at me looking up at him. I didn’t have to read the painting’s label which no doubt listed the artist’s name, the title of the painting, and the date it was executed. I didn’t have time. I was pulled right past the words into the heart of the matter. Communication was instantaneous. I knew immediately that this seething mass of humanity, posing as saints and angels on canvas, all 23 by 72 feet of it, was transmogrified flesh…Tintoretto’s. (more…)

  • New York Gallery, Lichtundfire with ‘Counterpoints to the Narrative’

    Elizabeth Stevens

    Martin Weinstein, “Kenoten, October Evenings,” 2016, acrylic on multiple acrylic sheets, 27 x 20 3/4″.

    Counterpoints to the Narrative is on view until the end of this month at Lichtundfire.  It provides a thoughtful exploration of contemporary mediums, color theory, and depth of field, featuring three artists who engage unique materials to bring an idiosyncrasy of observation in traditional approaches to balance and color.  The exhibition is a revelation on more than one level from its curator Dominick Lombardi; and Lichtundfire, a gallery I have come to admire as sage to the world of objective theory through its exploration of new approaches in the rapport of material to expression. (more…)

  • Addison Gallery of American Art with Stella Prime: Prints from an American Master

    Mark Favermann

    Frank Stella, ‘Steller’s Albatross from Exotic Bird Series,’ 1977, lithograph, screenprint on white Arches 88 paper mould-made paper, 33 7/8 x 44 7/8 in., National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, purchased 1979. © 2017 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

    ‘Frank Stella Prints’ offers an unusually illuminating perspective on the career of virtuoso artist, Frank Stella, who helped define the perimeters of American art over the past five decades. The show focuses on his printmaking, and its over 100 works on paper suggest the ways his highly experimental approach transformed our understanding of the traditional print.

    This elegant and comprehensive exhibition, the artist’s first major print retrospective since 1982, also offers up a clear view of Stella’s stylistic evolution — a series of reinventions that morphed from the minimalist geometric abstraction of his early years to an effervescent complexity of his later gestural work. (more…)

  • ‘The School For Lies’ at Shakespeare Theatre, Washington, D.C: “Rippingly Appropriate” for 2017

    Amy Henderson

    l to r: Gregory Wooddell as Frank, Cameron Folmar as Clitander, Liam Craig as Acast and Tom Story as Oronte. All photos by Scott Suchman, unless otherwise noted.

    Egad–imagine life riven by “fake news,” “alternate facts,” and boorish behavior?! Playwright David Ives has, and he has now wickedly transformed this thought into a gleeful roast. His new play, The School for Lies, is loosely based on Moliere’s mid-seventeenth century caricature of French oafishness, The Misanthrope, and it is one of the funniest productions ever concocted. It is the perfect antidote for our dreary times. (more…)

  • “Markus Lüpertz, Threads of History” Jointly at Washington’s Hirshhorn & Phillips

    Elaine A. King

    Seldom do museums in Washington, D.C. engage in collective undertakings, in spite of their eminence and professional staff.  Unexpectedly, the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden and The Phillips Collection have chosen to work in partnership on complimentary exhibitions showcasing the works by the German painter Markus Lüpertz.  This is the first official alliance between the two venues.  The Hirshhorn’s exhibition titled “Markus Lüpertz: Threads of History,” curated by Evelyn Hankins, focuses on Lüpertz’s early work from 1962 to 1975, in the context of post-war Germany; while Dorothy Kosinski, director of the Phillips Collection, curated “Markus Lüpertz,” offers a retrospective of the artist’s five-decade oeuvre.

    Above, left: Markus Lüpertz, Stil: Eins-Zehn VII—große Form mit Linie 2 (Style:  One-Ten VII—Large Shape with Line 2), 1977. Oiland distemper on canvas, 63 3/4 x 51 1/4 in. Private collection © 2017 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York /VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn.


  • Roman Ruins: Update on a Once Great Beauty

    Paula Spurlin Paige

    On a recent sunny September afternoon, I stood on one of the hills of Rome with a group of Italians, looking across the brown Tiber (below) to the old orange buildings of Trastevere. A bright green bird, maybe some sort of parrot, swooped over the river toward a row of darker green umbrella pines. Modern Rome has few birds, except for sparrows and pigeons, and precious little quiet, so we stood for a while and drank it in. (more…)

  • ‘Matisse in the Studio,’ at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts: Vibrant Beauty

    Mark Favermann

    French artist Henri Matisse (1869-1954) was a seminal influence on 20th Century Art, a creative spirit who helped define the century’s revolutionary approach to the visual. The MFA’s Matisse in the Studio – the only venue in North America where this exhibition will be shown – is the first major international show to examine how the objects in the artist’s personal collection played in powerful role in shaping his art. It is a fascinating look at how the objects he regarded with affection effected a great artist’s oeuvre. (more…)

  • Editor’s Letter: May, 2017

    Richard Friswell


    “History never really says goodbye. History says, ‘See you later.’” 
                        ~Eduardo Galeano

    Left: Frank Duveneck, study for, Guard at the Harem (1888). Collection Asian Art Museum, San Francisco

    Art Preserves the Historical Record: Muslim Slaves in 19th Century America

    First, a little background…

    Slavery is as old as civilization. The capture, sale and exploitation of slave labor had been a burgeoning business for the nations of Europe and Africa—then the center of the known world—and beyond, throughout recorded history.

    So when slavery arrived on the shores of the American colonies, it was merely a natural progression of a widely recognized and accepted practice. It is important to note, at this point, a detail about exploration and settlement of the North American continent in the 400 years since its “discovery”, up until the Civil War. After the vast landfall’s presence was known for certain, this “New World” was invaded by three principle groups—each with its own agenda. (more…)

  • 217 Films Releases “America Rising: The Arts of the Gilded Age”—Brilliantly Conceived

    Richard Friswell

    Caricature of Mark Twain, soon after the publication of ‘The Gilded Age- A Tale of Today’ (1873), co-authored with Charles Dudley Warner.

    Mark Twain wasted little affection on the extravagances of Victorian America. Boisterous lifestyles and conspicuous consumption followed hard on the heels of a dreadfully protracted Civil War. In its aftermath, industrial innovation, commercial and urban expansion fueled both a new, burgeoning middle and astronomically-rich industrial class. Across the Atlantic during the same period (1870-90s), the French had their own term for these times: La Belle Epoch. Soured by its implications for our own societal values, Twain disparagingly referred to it as the “Gilded Age.”  The good news, of course, was that American exceptionalism was coming into its own, as a nation and its inchoate culture began to emerge from under the dominant shadow of its mentor—Western Europe. But, that shift toward cultural autonomy and global dominance was a trend that only historical perspective now confirms. For cultural observers of the time, like Twain, the old world order was slipping away, life moving at breakneck and confusing speed toward an ill-defined future and an ebullient new century. (more…)

  • “Other Than Honorable” at Rochester’s Geva Theatre: A Lasting Impression

    Herbert Simpson

    Jessiee Datino with Jason Kolotouros in “Other Than Honorable” at Geva Theatre Center. (All photos by Huth Photography)

    I think this is an important play. It has won acclaim in development around the country, clearly knocked out the opening night audience on its world premiere at Rochester, New York’s Geva Theater Center, and is most certainly headed for a Broadway debut.  Some of award-winning, fearless Jamie Pachino’s hard-hitting script and trail-blazing director Kimberly Senior’s showy, theatrical second act may get more subtly tuned-up first, but ‘Other Than Honorable’ is sure to make a lasting impression and win awards. (more…)

  • Washington’s Ford’s Theater with “Ragtime”: Resonates with Our Time

    Amy Henderson

    Cast of the musical “Ragtime” at Ford’s Theatre, directed by Peter Flynn. All photos by Carol Rosegg.

    From the opening notes of its come-hither “Prologue,” the new Ford’s Theatre production of Ragtime is an immersive experience. This historic Washington, D.C., theater is intimate: the stage sits close to the audience, and actors at times run back-and-forth along the aisles. Ford’s also has a unique identity no other theater can offer, because hovering over all the action is the Presidential Box where Lincoln was shot. The legacy of his injunction to find “the better angels of our nature” gives this production of Ragtime a particular poignancy. (more…)

  • Broadway’s LuPone and Ebersole in “War Paint”: Double Display of Delicious Divadom

    Edward Rubin

    Patti LuPone (Helena Rubenstein)and Christine Ebersole (Elizabeth Arden) in ‘War Paint.’ Photos by Joan Marcus.

    It’s no surprise that Patti LuPone and Christine Ebersole, two of Broadway’s most beloved Tony-winning performers, each with their own cadre of diehard followers, are filling the seats at Broadway’s Nederlander Theater. It is equally unsurprising that the audience goes over the moon after each Scott Frankel (music) and Michael Korie (lyrics) War Paint song that they sing. And there are some twenty of them. They must realize that this is History in the Making, heaven-sent if you will, for having two knock ‘em dead Broadway stars singing their hearts out for the price of one, is a treat of great and rare proportion. (more…)

  • Award-winning WW II Drama, ‘Land of Mine’: Boy Soldiers and the Allies’ Revenge

    Nancy Kempf

    “All wars are waged against children.” Eglantyne Jebb, British social reformer and author of “Declaration of the Rights of the Child” (1876-1928)

    Two of the finest World War II films ever made are Austrian filmmaker Bernhard Wicki’s “The Bridge” (“Die Brücke”) and Soviet Russian filmmaker Elem Klimov’s “Come and See.” Wicki’s film, based on Gregor Dorfmeister’s 1958 novel of the same name and based on actual events, was released in 1959, a mere 15 years after World War II ended, when the experiences of war would have been fresh in the German memory. (more…)

  • Yale Center for British Art’s, ‘Enlightened Princesses’: The Power of Human Endeavor

    Tyler Griffith

    Jean-Baptiste van Loo, Augusta, Princess of Wales, 1742, oil on canvas, 94 1/2 x 62″. Royal Collection Trust.

    Enlightened Princesses: Caroline, Augusta, Charlotte, and the Shaping of the Modern World offers a visceral, multi-faceted and interdisciplinary look at the eighteenth century told through the passions and activities of three women—German aristocracy by birth, British royalty by marriage. Among their shared interests were natural philosophy (we moderns might call it “science”), literature, theater, music, fine art, religion, architecture, collecting, exploration, patronage, botany, charity, medicine, education, politics, crafts, horticulture, and gardening; and the list could go much, much further on. All three women demonstrated a deep-rooted and persistent interest in the limits and possibilities of human endeavor, both in terms of the interior developments of creative genius and in the external interaction of humanity with the world around them. They used all available resources to encourage the arts and sciences to blossom under their charge as Queen Consorts and senior women at court. (more…)

  • New York Artist, Mary Hrbacek’s ‘Fierce Affection’ for a Miracle of Nature

    Richard Friswell

    Mary Hrbacek, Fierce Affection (2014) Acrylic on Linen, 40 x 40″

    You pass by them each day, a world replete with these silent sentinels, looming and swaying in breezes high overhead. They cleanse our air, shade our backyards, grace our hillsides, and even sacrifice themselves to set our campfires aglow, or frame a roof over our heads. Trees are a ubiquitous part of our lives in all but the most barren or harshly urbanized parts of our lives. Their beauty and utility go largely unheralded, unless you take the time to explore the wonder of both their form and function in our everyday existence. One artist in particular has taken the time to carefully examine this deeply-rooted, but often ignored feature of our landscape—dramatically expressive living organisms that overspread approximately 9.6 billion acres or 30% of the world’s land surface—trees. (more…)

  • ‘The Object Lesson’ at the New York Theatre Workshop

    Edward Rubin

    Solo performer Geoff Sobelle, in ‘Object Lessons.’ Photos: Joan Marcus

    The New York Theatre Workshop, one of the most audacious theaters in New York City, never fails to astonish its audience in the wide-ranging fare that it chooses to present, the directors and actors that tread its stage, and its stunning production designs.

    I’m talking about set, lighting, sound, costume, and film. In fact, in can be said that visual and audio surprises – you never know what is going to hit you between your eyes and ears upon entering the theatre – is one of the NYTW’S major calling cards (more…)

  • Yayoi Kusama: “Infinity Mirrors” at Washington’s Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden

    Elaine A. King

    Yayoi Kusama with recent works in Tokyo, 2016. Photo by Tomoaki Makino Courtesy of the artist © Yayoi Kusama. NOTE: detailed image captions can be found at end of review

    Childlike simplicity and frankness along with infinite universes brim throughout the “Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors” exhibition currently on view at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden.  Kusama’s unique visual language of recurrent patterns of dots, vibrant colors, wondrous-mirrored rooms and pumpkins evoke an atmosphere of positive joyfulness that invite viewers to participate in her unique visual world. This display is a welcomed relief in Washington, DC’s current gloom and doom milieu! (more…)

  • ‘Sunset Boulevard’: Close Encounters at the Palace, Broadway

    Edward Rubin

    Glenn Close as Norma Desmond in ‘Sunset Boulevard.’ All photos: Joan Marcus

    To say that Glenn Close brings down the house during the musical Sunset Boulevard is almost an understatement, as the hoots, hollers, and applause – I even heard a bravo or two– offered by her admirers, shook the very rafters of the Palace Theatre after every number she sang. And that was not the end of it. At curtain call, the now-standing audience celebrating Close’s return to the iconic role of silent screen star Norma Desmond after a twenty- two year Broadway absence – both the musical and Close won a Tony in 1995 – just about refused to let Close leave the stage. (more…)

  • Theaster Gates: The Minor Arts at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC

    Elaine A. King

    Artist, Theaster Gates. Photo courtesy of hypocritedesign.com

    Theaster Gates is a 21st century Renaissance man whose art practice comprises painting, sculpture, installation, music, design, performance and urban planning.  Gates is, as are L.A. artists Mark Bradford and Richard Lowe, an extraordinary social practice artist who can sees potential beyond the surface of a situation despite its outwardly decrepit state. He was born in Chicago in 1973 on Chicago’s run-down South Side, known as Greater Grand Crossing, where he continues to work and live. This visionary raises money, collaborates with urban planners/architects/policy makers and has been supported by Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel who made Gates an off-the-record commissioner of renewal for the city’s South Side. (more…)

  • Philadelphia Museum of Art Features Watercolors by Homer and Sargent

    Amy Henderson
    John William Hill, American (born England), 1812-1879, Apples and Plums, 1874. Watercolor on paper, 7 7/8 × 11 3/8 inches. Collection of Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr.

    John William Hill, American (born England), 1812-1879, Apples and Plums, 1874. Watercolor on paper, 7 7/8 × 11 3/8 inches. Collection of Theodore E. Stebbins, Jr.

    Is it appropriate to define watercolor as “the medium” in American art?  That’s the contention curator Kathleen A. Foster sets forth in her new Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibition and catalogue, American Watercolor in the Age of Homer and Sargent.

    Establishing watercolor’s significance has been the driving force of Foster’s career, beginning with her 1982 Yale dissertation, “Makers of the American Watercolor Movement, 1860-1890.”  While the medium has often been called “quaint” and sniffed at as something women toyed with on Sunday afternoons, Foster has made it her career crusade to show that the medium launched a vital aesthetic movement in America after the Civil War. Instead of imitating French Impressionism, artists embraced watercolor and catalyzed the creation of a uniquely American art–one whose vibrant identity suited the rise of America’s modern national identity in the late 19th century. (more…)

  • Editor’s Letter: March, 2017

    Richard Friswell

    matisse woman with hat

    Vanity, Thy Name Is…

    “I don’t control painting, painting controls me.” ~ Hubert Roestenburg, German Expressionist

    Left: Henri Matisse, Woman in a Hat (1920) Private Collection.

    What can art teach us about human motivation? It is in our nature to surround ourselves with the people and things that reinforce our self-image and belief systems, as evidenced in the case of the current president? Take notice of the ‘new’ oval office and the change in art work that now hangs within sight of the chief executive, and all those who care to notice in photographs of proceedings there. To the right of the desk, from a viewer’s perspective, is a large portrait of Andrew Jackson (c. 1834), by then-Nashville colleague and White House resident artist, Ralph E.W. Earl. Jackson lost a bitterly contested election to John Quincy Adams in `24.  His next campaign—characterized by his rough-hewn style and unconventional Tennessee country ways—was aimed at earning the vote of the ordinary man. This carried him to victory in 1828. In order to manage his public image, it is said that Jackson kept the artist close by in the years that followed, requiring that multiple portraits be produced to reinforce the perception of the man as a heroic and statesman-like figure. (more…)

  • Contemporary Sculptor Boaz Vaadia: Figures Keep Silent Vigil in Complex World

    Richard Friswell


    Editor’s Note: We recently learned of the untimely death of sculptor, Boaz Vaadia, at age 65. This piece ran in ARTES in 2013, after a wonderful visit to his studio in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York. Our time together on that and other occasions always felt more like a reunion of friends than a series of interviews. Boaz’s warmth and congenial style will always be remembered. His talent and devotion to his medium were remarkable, as was his love of family. His towering bluestone figures will stand for all time as a memoriam to his craft and the lasting impression he made on those lucky enough to know him during his brief time among us.

    The narrow metal door is just a step up from the narrow street, one of many in the matrix that is the Williamsburg neighborhood, a quaint section of New York City’s Brooklyn borough. A small hand-lettered name appears above the mailbox beside the entrance—Vaadia—alerting me to the fact that I’ve reached my destination, the studio of well-known sculptor, Boaz Vaadia (left). artes fine arts magazin (more…)

  • Penny Arcade’s ‘Longing Lasts Longer’ at Brooklyn’s St Anne’s Warehouse

    Edward Rubin
    penny arcade

    Solo performer, Penny Arcade

    I have always appreciated the bravery, as well as the chutzpah, of those performers who choose to go it alone in a one man or one woman show. Not unlike comedians who stand totally exposed before an audience hoping to avoid the slings and arrows, or for that matter the stink of rotten tomatoes, these are all but naked performers. Ultimately, they rely on the shear force of their god-given personality, and well-honed talents to wow their audience; and in the best case, bring them to their feet amidst thunderous applause. (more…)

  • “Stuart Davis: In Full Swing” at Washington’s National Gallery of Art

    Elaine A. King
    Davis, Stuart

    Cover image for NGA exhibition: ‘Stuart Davis: In Full Swing,’ Owh! on San Pao (1951). Detailed caption info for all images at end of review

    Stuart Davis (1892-1964) is considered to be one of America’s first modern artists and a precursor of Pop Art.  He was an enthused colorist whose bright, well-developed paintings translated French Cubism into an unquestionably American art expression. Stuart Davis: In Full Swing, currently on view at Washington’s National Gallery of Art, considers his work from 1921 and his breakthrough paintings of tobacco packages. It then moves through five decades to his final canvas, demonstrating through the chronology Davis’s habit of recycling earlier work for new compositions. With more than one hundred of his most important, visually complex compositions on view, the exhibition highlights Davis’s ability to assimilate the imagery of popular culture, the aesthetics of advertising, the lessons of cubism, and the sounds and rhythms of jazz into works that hum with intelligence and energy. (more…)

  • Washington D.C.’s Phillips Collection: ‘Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the Belle Epoque’

    Amy Henderson
    Mademoiselle Églantine’s Troupe 1

    Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Mademoiselle Églantine’s Troupe, 1895–96. Ed. Note: For detailed captions on all images, see story end.

    The Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. has recently opened an exhibition that showcases an extraordinary collection of Toulouse-Lautrec lithographs. Toulouse-Lautrec Illustrates the ‘Belle Epoque’  focuses on about 100 “defining images” that embrace the artist’s entire lithographic career (1891-1899) and provide a fascinating window into Montmartre’s fin de siècle  café and cabaret society. (more…)

  • Editor’s Letter: January, 2017

    Edward Rubin


    “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

    Left: Paul Delaroche, Two Heads, Camaldolese Monks (1844).

    Sweeping up the Heart

    Every singer, every actor, every dancer considers themselves artists. The world of expression and those who give form to our emotions through lyrics and movement, is poorer in these fresh days of a New Year, a result of the loss of several talented performers in recent weeks. While my head was still spinning with each new, sad announcement, I received an email from cherished, long-time friend and contributing editor to ARTES, Ed Rubin. Eddy is a New Yorker, through-and-through, and as a result, has ‘theater’ coursing through his veins. The performing arts come alive for those, like Ed, who can casually encounter a star or a cultural icon on the streets of the City, at a restaurant or party. You quickly learn that celebrities are just people, as their vulnerability and untimely deaths so often painfully demonstrate. (more…)

  • Gallery 100 New York: International Artists Draw ‘A Fine Line’                          

    Mary Hrbacek

    Alan Sonfist, “Leaves Frozen in Time: Spring,” Mix Media on Canvas, 4 x 4 ft. (122 x 122 cm.) no date provided

    A Fine Line, the inaugural exhibition for the newly launched Gallery 100 New York, presents an amalgamation of the varied but related works of four international artists, who use straightforward natural materials with telling effect.  The show curated by gallery director Michelle Loh, features Wang Huangsheng, Oliver Catté, Mahmoud Hamadani, and Alan Sonfist.  An express emphasis on paper unites the installation; there is an aura of purity emanating from the white paper of the drawings on view that permeates the space.  Color plays an important tandem role; hues glitter in conjunction with the brown cardboard works, and in the nature-based leaf piece entitled “Leaves Frozen in Time: Spring.”  The abstract drawings explore the essential delicacy of paper as it comingles with ink flowing irregularly over the surfaces, while the creative potential and durability of cardboard come sharply into focus in cityscapes that radiate urban exuberance. Traditional underpinnings resound through the exhibition; the use of ink, which is made from tree bark, is a medium used for millennia in Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. (more…)

  • Editor’s Letter: December, 2016

    Richard Friswell



    “To perceive Christmas through its wrappings becomes more difficult with every year.”

    ~E. B. White

    Right: Bartelomeo Veneto, Lady Playing a Lute (c. 1520). Pinacoteca di Brera (Milan, Italy)


    Rebirth and Resilience

    Dear Reader- In May of this year, the ebb and flow of ARTES articles and opinion—so much a part of my life and that of our writers and online visitors since launching in 2009—came crashing down. The diagnosis: the accumulated content of 27 Gb of words and images, supported by WordPress code that in some cases dated to our inception, caused it to collapse under its own virtual weight. As explained, it was an aging sand castle foundation, eroded by a relentless tide of new material being heaped on top. Our repeated and best efforts to keep the site ‘live’ were to no avail. In thecaspar_david_friedrich_-_wanderer_above_the_sea_of_fog-1818 weeks that followed, shock, sadness and a genuine sense of loss permeated my emotions.

    Right: Casper David Friedrich, Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (1818).

    My dismay was only reinforced by conversations with tech experts who offered little hope for an easy fix; or a complex rehabilitation effort at great expense, with no guarantees at the other end. Weeks turned to months as I contemplated life without ARTES as a daily project. I taught more classes, began writing a long-planned book, and roamed the many book stores and libraries in my area looking for solace. It was an emotional summer for me as various strategies for restoring ARTES churned in the back of my mind. Events were further complicated by added responsibilities related to my aging mother at one end of life’s spectrum, and the imminent arrival of a grandchild at the other. (more…)

  • New York’s Marianne Boesky Gallery with Matthias Bitzer: a different sort of gravity

    Mary Hrbacek

    Matthias Bitzer, Installation view. Foreground: phosphor notes (a different sort of gravity), mixed media (2016)

    The works in Matthias Bitzer’s show, “a different sort of gravity” couldn’t be more confounding or diverse; this is the show’s aim. On my first view, I found the installation to be incoherent, even confusing.  It took my breath away. On the second view I realized that the exhibit resonates with a sense of its true meaning, but this baffling heterogeneous display takes time to grasp.  (more…)

  • New Haven’s Long Wharf Theater, ‘My Paris’: C’est Tres Bon

    Geary Danihy

    Bobby Steggert (Henri Toulouse-Lautrec), Mara Davi (Suzanne Valadon) in Long Wharf’s production of ‘My Paris.’ All photos: T. Charles Erickson

    A crippled man, diminutive in size, falls victim to drink, drugs and various other vices and dies before he is forty. Not the stuff you would gravitate towards if you were considering creating a musical, unless you wished to have your audience leave the theater feeling worse than it did when it sat down. You also probably wouldn’t think of writing a musical about a wicked witch or a girl named Mimi dying of HIV or a mother suffering from bipolar disorder. You’d walk away from the projects…and you would be wrong. xxxxx (more…)

  • Westport Country Playhouse and Mark Lamos’ Repertory: Art Isn’t Easy

    Geary Danihy

    www.artesmagazine.comBack in 1931, the Westport Country Playhouse’s inaugural season, several plays were presented in repertory, that is, several plays alternated daily. This also occurred in the 1932 and 1935 seasons, but the repertory concept was soon abandoned and wasn’t attempted again until the mid-1960s. That’s about to change this year, for the Playhouse will be opening its 2016 season with two plays in repertory, Red, by John Logan, and Art, by Yasmina Reza, in a translation by Christopher Hampton. Both plays won Tonys for Best Play, Art in 1998 and Red in 2010. xxxxx (more…)

  • Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden’s ‘Robert Irwin: All the Rules Will Change’

    Amy Henderson



    Robert Irwin, ‘Untitled’ (1969), acrylic paint on shaped acrylic, 53″ diameter. Collection: Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.

    The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., has just opened a major exhibition that celebrates one of America’s most influential postwar artists. Robert Irwin: All the Rules Will Change is the first American museum survey of Irwin’s work outside of California, where he was a leader of the Light and Space art movement in the 1960s.

    Exhibition curator Evelyn Hankins, in her catalogue essay “Experiencing the Ineffable: Robert Irwin in the 1960s,” explains that capturing the arc of Irwin’s pioneering and ever-changing artistic trajectory has been a daunting task. Irwin’s evolving artistic work doesn’t fit into convenient art theory pigeon holes. His path unfolds in its own particular way and is totally devoted to the experience of seeing. xxxxx (more…)

  • Isamu Noguchi: Spirit and Matter Written In Stone

    Edward Rubin

    www.artesmagazine.comJapanese American artist Isamu Noguchi’s (1904-88) philosophy of life and artistic output are so intricately intertwined that it is near impossible to think of them separately. He is also one of a handful of 20th Century artists whose very ideas and explorations, perhaps even more vital today than in his own time, warrant careful study. Noguchi was no ordinary thinker. He believed that seeing stars from the bottom of a well can be a sculpture, spoke of ancient monuments and stones as being alive, light and sound as sculpture, and shapes carrying memory. He also was extremely interested in the additional space that sensory experiences and imagination supplies and experimented widely with such notions as weightlessness in weight. xxxxx (more…)

  • Rochester, NY Geva Theater with O’Neill’s ‘A Moon for the Misbegotten’

    Herbert Simpson

    Donald Sage Mackay (James Tyrone, Jr. and Kate Forbes (Josie Hogan). All photos by Ron Heerkens, Jr.

    This fine production of Eugene O’Neill’s last play was planned as a co-production with the Theatre Royal of Waterford Ireland and played there first. Geva’s artistic director, Mark Cuddy, has negotiated artistic exchanges with Ireland’s leading theaters for more than twelve years since his sabbatical year there, and made this choice with Ben Barnes, now director of the ancient Theatre Royal, and previously director of Ireland’s famed Abbey Theatre.  It is a play with only five characters and basically a single setting, but it’s on my “NFA List” [Not For Amateurs]: rich, haunting, debatable, truly meaningful, funny, tragic, humane, and heartbreakingly beautiful. xxxxx (more…)

  • Baroque Rome in the Footsteps of Gian Lorenzo Bernini

    Tamara Thiessen

    Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi in Piazza Navona, Rome. All photos courtesy of the author.

    A s one walks the city of Rome, its major public squares and bridges, basilicas, galleries and other holy places, the work of 17th century sculptor and architect Gian Lorenzo Bernini appear to accompany the visitor. No other artist, pope or urban planner had a more enduring impact on the look of the Eternal City today. From the colonnades of St. Peter’s Square to the fountains of Piazzas di Spagna, Popolo, Navona and Barberini – Bernini sculpted Rome’s look like no other. xxxxx (more…)

  • Washington’s National Gallery of Art@75: 300 Years of American Prints

    Amy Henderson

    Michele Fanoli after Richard Caton Woodville, ‘Politics in an Oyster-House,’ 1851, hand-colored lithograph, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Corcoran Collection (Gift of the Estate of William Woodville VIII), 2015.

    There is a fascinating cultural breeze riffling through some of America’s most esteemed museums. In February the Philadelphia Museum of Art announced an upcoming exhibition on Mexican Modernism, 1910-1950, which aims “to provoke.” This week, the National Gallery of Art launched its 75th anniversary with the first comprehensive exhibition to survey 300 years of American life, not through art-to-the-manner-born, but through prints—a “democratic artistic medium” that is inexpensive, widely accessible, and easily distributed. xxxxx (more…)

  • Yale Rep’s ‘Cymbeline’: To Be Male, or Not To Be Male, That Is the Question

    Geary Danihy

    Miriam A. Hyman (Posthumus) and Sheria Irving (Imogen), in CYMBELINE by William Shakespeare, directed by Evan Yionoulis. All photos © Carol Rosegg, 2016.

    Yes, it’s true that in Shakespeare’s time men and boys played women’s roles on stage (because, by law, they had to) and, yes, as the Yale Rep’s playbill notes, women have had occasion to dress as men and, yes, there have been stagings of Shakespeare’s plays that have used cross-gender casting. All of this is noted in the playbill, and as one reads it one gets the feeling that the authors perhaps protest too much as justification for the current casting of Cymbeline, one of Shakespeare’s later plays that has defied pigeonholing (tragedy? comedy? Perhaps a “romance”?). The play is, at best, problematic, and scenes and plot devices echo many of those used by the Bard in earlier plays, so much so that one gets the feeling that Will might have been running out of gas. In any event, Yale Rep’s current production, under the direction of Evan Yionoulis, reflects, if unintentionally, the problems in the play itself, compounding confusion as to how the audience is supposed to respond to what it is seeing. xxxxx (more…)

  • Peabody Essex Museum’s ‘Asia in Amsterdam’: Borrowed Inspiration

    Emilie Foster

    Gerrit Adriaensz. Berckheyde. The “Golden Bend” in the Herengracht, Amsterdam, 1671-1672. Oil on panel. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Courtesy of Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.

    Creativity cannot exist in a vacuum. Whether intentional or subliminal, ideas travel and leave their mark regardless of culture, method of transport, or purpose. Because of this, society evolves and changes. Art changes. It has to, in order to survive. Creators borrow from everything around them, infusing each work with a moment in time and space. Throughout history as the world started to get smaller, this evolution only intensified. Exposure to new cultures created new opportunities, not only in art but also commerce. Nothing comes without a price however, often at the expense of the originator. xxxxx (more…)

  • New York’s Gerald Peters Gallery, ‘Fault Lines’: A Shifting Perspective on American Landscape

    Mary Hrbacek

    Jason Middlebrook, ‘We All Can Relate’ (2015), acrylic on maple, 22 x 28 x1″.

    The exhibition entitled “Fault Lines: Shifting Perspectives on Landscape in American Art,” at New York’s, GP Presents, displays five contemporary nature-oriented artists whose process-based art engages natural motifs with new intentions.  While they offer new contexts that dismantle and restructure nature as a subject, the artists are fully engaged in exploring it as a hot topic. xxxxx (more…)

  • Memory Networks: Interview with Contemporary Artist, China Blue

    Richard Friswell

    China Blue, ‘Mind Draw,’ video still (2014)

    Editor’s Note: Artist, China Blue, lives and produces art in the New England region.  She is founder and executive director of The Engine Institute, an organization fostering collaborative explorations between artists and scientists through research, development and presentations, with the goal of facilitating the spread of scientific and artistic literacy. A light and sound artist, China explores human sensory and perceptual abilities through her investigations and explorations into bioacoustics, ultra and infrasonic sampling devices, brain wave monitoring, and robotic sensory avatars. Here, she sets her sights on a complex human condition–Alzheimer’s disease–applying her creative abilities to discover new ways of understanding the way we think and feel.

    Richard Friswell: I see your work on display in galleries and installation settings in the greater New York area. It is a pleasure to finally explore it with you, in depth. First, tell me about the overarching message of your recent series of paintings?

    China Blue: This work explores how we connect and hold on to our life experiences. Memory is transient. Our recollections occur in fragments that arrive as flashes detached from time. “Memory Networks” is a project that investigates linking and preserving them in beautiful abstract figurative forms to hold them together. Made with aluminum based paint the shiny globules and lines make for stunning examples of how we can hold on to our thoughts and experiences. xxxxx (more…)

  • ‘Ruthless’ at New York’s St. Luke’s Theatre: The Little Musical That Could

    Edward Rubin

    Tori Murray as Tina Denmark in RUTHLESS! All photos: Carol Rosegg

    To say I loved the musical Ruthless, currently playing at St. Luke’s Theatre in New York City, through June 18th (after several extensions by popular demand), is a gross understatement. More accurately, I loved, loved, loved Ruthless. In fact, after seeing the play two times, thoughts of marrying the musical as well as its delightful cast of seven came to mind. I was sure that such a union would supply me with a lifetime of high octane fun. xxxxx (more…)

  • Film Review: Survival in Extremis, ‘The Revenant’ and ‘Son Of Saul’

    Nancy Kempf

    One survives through an obsession with vengeance, the other through an obsession with atonement. Sometimes even to live is an act of courage.


    You don’t ask people with knives in their stomachs what would make them happy; happiness is no longer the point. It’s all about survival; it’s all about whether you pull the knife out and bleed to death or keep it in…

    ~Nick Hornby, “How to Be Good”


    Leonardo DiCaprio as one-time frontiersman,Hugh Glass, in ‘Revenant’

    Two of the most highly acclaimed films of this awards season have been Alejandro González Iñárritu’s “The Revenant” and László Nemes’s “Son of Saul.” Oscars went to Iñárritu for Directing, Leonardo DiCaprio for Best Actor and Emmanuel Lubezki for Cinematography. Nemes’s “Son of Saul” won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Both films center on a protagonist in unimaginable torment. One survives through an obsession with vengeance, the other through an obsession with atonement. xxxxx (more…)

  • Phillips Collection’s ‘Seeing Nature: Landscape Masterworks from the Paul G. Allen Family Collection’

    Amy Henderson

    Jan Brueghel the Younger, ‘The Five Senses: Sight,’ (detail) c. 1625. Oil on panel, 27 5/8 x 44 5/8 in. Paul G. Allen Family Collection.

    This spring, the Phillips Collection, a private museum in Washington, D.C. calling itself “America’s first museum of Modern art,” presents 39 masterworks of European and American landscape painting from the collection of philanthropist and entrepreneur, Paul G. Allen. Seeing Nature is a traveling national exhibition that is co-organized by the Portland Art Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. xxxxxxxxxx (more…)

  • National Portrait Gallery, Real and Fiction: a “Presidential” Portrait

    Amy Henderson

    Jonathan Yeo, Kevin Spacey as ‘President’ Frank Underwood (2016). National Portrait Gallery

    The 2016 presidential campaign has evaporated the blurry distinction between “real” and “virtual” that Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Daniel J. Boorstin railed against in his classic 1962 book, The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in America. At the time, Boorstin was furious about how Madison Avenue advertisers—the Mad Men who were engulfing the media with consumerism–and a television system then-dominated by a three-network monopoly, had created a culture based on “illusions that we mistake…for reality.” (Boorstin, 5-6). xxxxx (more…)

  • Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal: David Altmejd’s Universe

    Emese Krunak-Hajagos

    David Altmejd, The Flux and The Puddle, 2014, detail, with heads. Photos, unless otherwise noted: Poul Buchard Brondum and Co. Courtesy of Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark.

    I was excited when I heard that the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal was planning a retrospective of David Altmejd’s work in the summer of 2015. I couldn’t wait to see it. Altmejd is an international artist whose work has been included in important Biennials (Istanbul, 2003; Whitney, 2004; Venice, 2007 where he represented Canada) and large exhibitions in New York, Paris, Montreal, and in Humlebæk (Denmark, 2016)) among others. He was born in Montreal in 1974 and, like many other successful artists, he moved to New York, where now he lives and works. xxxxx (more…)

  • New York’s Richard Rodger’s Theater, ‘Hamilton’: Transformative

    Charles Giuliano

    Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson. All production images: Joan Marcus

    With the genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda yet again the vernacular music of the streets, hip-hop and rap, have evolved to high art in the sensational, smash hit Broadway opera Hamilton, based on the extensive biography by Ron Chernow.

    For just under three hours in two acts, with elaborate exposition, the music and choreography pulses relentlessly forward with a rainbow cast telling the galvanic story of the most brilliant of the founding fathers. xxxxx (more…)

  • Book Review: Matthew Hahn, ‘The Animated Marx Brothers’—A Look at Humor’s Social Value

    Amy Henderson

    Immersed in wintery gloom and headlines of doom, perhaps it’s time for us to take a deep breath and remind ourselves to laugh!   Humor –remember that?!–is the perfect prescription for sanity. From slapstick to Seinfeld, America’s popular culture has always embraced humor. Composers of the classic American songbook extolled happiness in such songs as “Make »more

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