• National Museum of Women in the Arts: Ursula von Rydingsvard, ‘The Contour of Feeling’

    Elaine A. King

    Ursula von Rydingsvard, ‘For Natasha,’ 2015; Cedar and graphite, 9 ft. 1 in. x 6 ft. 7 in. x 3 ft. 6 in.; © Ursula von Rydingsvard, Courtesy of Galerie Lelong & Co.; Photo by Michael Bodycomb.

    Ursula von Rydingsvard is a notable sculptor whose work ranks high among women artists of her generation including Jackie Winsor, Mary Miss and Alice Aycock.  Rydingsvard was born in Deensen, Germany of a Polish mother and Ukrainian father.  During the German occupation of Poland, she along with her six siblings underwent the suffering of World War II, and lived in German refugee camps for banished Poles.  In 1959, because of the U.S. Marshall Plan and the assistance of Catholic agencies, her family came to the United States where they re-located to Plainville, Connecticut.  Her early tumultuous history persists to inform her immense work resulting in an intimidating beauty.  Resembling landscapes ravaged by external forces, von Rydingsvard’s art evokes the abstraction of Cubism and possesses an irresistible magnetism. (more…)

  • D.C.’s  Smithsonian Freer/Sackler & National Geographic Museum with ‘Empresses’ and ‘Pharoahs’’

    Amy Henderson

    The Smithsonian’s Freer/Sackler Museum has opened a stunning exhibition that showcases the Empresses of China’s long-lived Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).  A collaboration with the Peabody Museum and Beijing’s Palace Museum, “Empresses of China’s Forbidden City” is intended to address the neglected history of these women: the press release argues that “male officials who wrote Qing court history recorded very little” about the Empresses’ activities, and this exhibit is meant to tell the little known stories of how these women lived and how they influenced politics and international diplomacy.

    Above, left: Empress Dowager Chongqing at the Age of Eighty, Ignatius Sichelbarth (Ai Qimeng, 1708–1780), Yi Lantai
    (act. ca. 1748–86), and Wang Ruxue (act. 18th century) China, Beijing, Qianlong period (1736–95), 1771 Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
    Palace Museum, Gu6453 © The Palace Museum. (more…)

  • Toronto’s Kananaj Gallery with Emmanuel Monzon: Urban Sprawl Emptiness

    Emese Krunak-Hajagos

    All mages are 30 x 30″, Digital print on Canson Arches Infinity Watercolor Paper (acid free), framed, Limited edition (1/3 ed of 3 +1AP), 2018. Courtesy of Robert Kananaj Gallery and the artist.

    Solitude surrounds the guest when entering Emmanuel Monzon’s exhibition at Robert Kananaj Gallery. All the photographs seem similar at first glance in their quiet compositions and monochrome colours. Taking a closer look, one recognizes their nuances – and becomes mesmerised by their magical beauty. They radiate an ephemeral, almost surreal tension that captivates the viewer. (more…)

  • New York City’s Elga Wimmer PCC with Group Show: ‘Material Culture’

    Mary Hrbacek

    Aida Izadpanah, Alignment series, Handmade, fired, painted porcelain on wooden board, 12 x 12,” 2019

    Elga Wimmer PCC presents “Material Culture,” an exhibition of five Iranian artists, curated by Roya Khadjavi that includes staged photographs, installation photography, porcelain sculptural reliefs, minimalist abstract art and abstract porcelain landscape paintings. The term “material culture” implies that the artists do not visualize their outcomes in advance, but rather their art emerges through the working process, by means of intuitive experimentation in which clues for resolution ensue from the materials. The show includes works by Massy Nasser-Ghandi, Aida Izadpanah, Maryam Khosrovani, Dana Nehdaran and Maryam Palizgir. (more…)

  • Broadway’s Imperial Theater- ‘Ain’t Too Proud: The Life and Times of The Temptations’

    Edward Rubin

    Ephraim Sykes, Jeremy Pope, Jawan M. Jackson, James Harkness, and Derrick Baskin in AIN’T TOO PROUD (all photos by Matthew Murphy)

    There are few examples of jukebox musicals – a denigrating term if ever – that have blown me away. In fact, without over taxing my brain, Jersey Boys, which dramatizes the formation, success and eventual break-up of the 1960s rock ‘n’roll group The Four Seasons is the only jukebox musical of import that immediately comes to mind.

    Directed by Des McAnuff, and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, Jersey Boys opened on Broadway at the August Wilson Theatre to rave reviews in November 2005. Winning four Tony Awards, one for Best Musical, after 4642 performances it closed in January 2017. (more…)

  • A Creative Camelot: The Bauhaus and Harvard University

    Mark Favermann

    Founded shortly after World War I in Germany, the Bauhaus was the most famous and influential avant-garde art and design school in the 20th Century. Its artists, architects, designers  craftpersons and students generated a creative, all-encompassing conversation about the nature of architecture, art and design in the modern era. Over the course of its relatively short, 14-year history, Bauhaus was at first located at Weimar, then Dessau, and finally Berlin (closed by order of Nazi Party, 1932).

    Above, left: The Gropius House, c. 1937-8. Photo: Mark Favermann

    (more…)

  • Washington, D.C.’s Folger Shakespeare Theater’s “Nell Gwynn”: Vibrant

    Amy Henderson

    Alison Luff as “Nell Gwynn,” in an Olivier Award-winning comedy at the Folger Theatre. All photos: Brittany Diliberto

    This winter, Washington, D.C.’s Folger Shakespeare Theater is giving audiences a glorious celebration of why theater matters.  Nell Gwynn is a boisterous, riotous romp that conveys theater’s sheer delight.

    The play is recent—written by Jessica Swale in 2015—but focuses on the Restoration actor-ess (as we learn) who transformed theater into an arena where women began to be cast to play women’s roles, rather than the tradition of men-playing-women. (more…)

  • New York’s Petzel Gallery with Dana Schutz: “Imagine Me and You”

    Mary Hrbacek

    Dana Scutz, Beat Out the Sun, oil on canvas, 94 x 87.5,” 2018

    Petzel Gallery presents “Dana Schutz, “Imagine Me and You,” an exhibition of twelve new large-scale oil paintings and five bronze sculptures that makes visual commentary in multilayered social, personal and political tableaux.  Schutz confidently confront the viewer directly, with breathtakingly fierce, even brutal images. They are not “pretty”; the artist is not overly preoccupied with aesthetics, or with traditional “good taste.”  Her assertive art is instead utterly honest, prepped to seize the awareness of a media-saturated public for whom art, film and television supply an overload of daily visual sustenance. (more…)

  • A Theatrical Double-header on Washington, D.C.’s Stages

    Amy Henderson
    ‘Anything Goes’ at Washington’s Arena Stage

    One of the pure joys of America’s classic musical theater was to create worlds filled with singing, dancing, and topicality.  No one did this better than Cole Porter, and his iconic 1934 Anything Goes fits the bill in Trumpian America as well as it did in the Great Depression.

    Left: Soara-Joye Ross (Reno Sweeney) and Corbin Bleu (Billy Crocker) in Anything Goes. All photos this story: Maria Baranova.

    Washington’s Arena Stage puts on one major American musical each year, and this year’s selection of Anything Goes had audiences on their feet with joyful celebration. The show was presented on Arena’s in-the-round stage, and the boisterous tapping flowed seamlessly to every vantage point. (more…)

  • New York’s Pershing Square Signature Center: ‘Clueless, The Musical’

    Edward Rubin

    L-R: Dove Cameron, Zurin Villanueva in “Clueless, The Musical,” a world premiere Off-Broadway production, from The New Group, at The Pershing Square Signature Center. All Photo credits: Monique Carboni.

    For those that loved Clueless, the 1995 cult movie starring Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd, watched the TV series (1996-99) based on the film, and perhaps read all twenty-one of the Cher young adult books, well, Clueless is back, this time as a two and a half hour, acrobatically dance-heavy, in-your-face, over the top, teenage hormonal-exploding, fun-filled, six-piece band-backed musical. And that’s saying a mouthful!

    Produced by the ever-adventurous The New Group (Sweet Charity, The Jerry Springer Show), and adapted for the stage by Amy Heckerling (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, 1982) from her original film script, and directed by Kristine Hanggi, Clueless, The Musical is currently running Off Broadway at Pershing Square Signature Center’s smallest theater, through January 12, 2018. (more…)