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    Editor’s Letter: December, 2016

    Richard Friswell

     

    bartolomeo_veneto_woman_playing_a_lute

    “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…)

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    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…)

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

    Geary Danihy
    www.artesmagazine.com

    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…)

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    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…)

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

    Amy Henderson

     

    www.artesmagazine.com

    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…)

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    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…)

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

    Herbert Simpson
    www.artesmagazine.com

    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…)

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    Baroque Rome in the Footsteps of Gian Lorenzo Bernini

    Tamara Thiessen
    www.artesmagazine.com

    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…)

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

    Amy Henderson
    www.artesmagazine.com

    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…)

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

    Geary Danihy
    www.artesmagazine.com

    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…)

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

    Emilie Foster
    www.artesmagazine.com

    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…)

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

    Mary Hrbacek
    www.artesmagazine.com

    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…)

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    Memory Networks: Interview with Contemporary Artist, China Blue

    Richard Friswell
    www.artesmagazine.com

    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…)

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

    Edward Rubin
    www.artesmagazine.com

    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…)

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    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.

    ~Seneca

    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”

    www.artesmagazine.com

    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…)

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

    Amy Henderson
    www.artesmagazine.com

    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…)

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

    Amy Henderson
    www.artesmagazine.com

    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…)

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

    Emese Krunak-Hajagos
    www.artesmagazine.com

    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…)

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

    Charles Giuliano
    www.artesmagazine.com

    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…)

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  • Yale Rep’s ‘Happy Days’: Stuck

    Geary Danihy

    There’s the actress, and then there’s the play. The actress is superb. The play? Well, I guess that’s a matter of taste…or fortitude, or an inherent ability to find delight in the absurdly static, or a deep desire to wallow in the existential meaning (or meaninglessness) of life. In any case, Happy Days, by Samuel »more

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    Westport Country Playhouse and ‘Red’ “…but I know what I like”

    Geary Danihy

    As the saying goes, “Art is in the eye of the beholder.” Facile, but perhaps true, yet there is Auguste Rodin: “The artist must create a spark before he can make a fire and before art is born, the artist must be ready to be consumed by the fire of his own creation.” Right: Foreground- »more

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