• Touring the Galleries of Knoxville: Diversity, Energy and Creativity

    D. Dominick Lombardi

    Artist Joseph Delaney stands with his painting ‘VJ Day’ (all images Courtesy of the Ewing Gallery unless otherwise noted)

    As someone who has kept a sharp eye on the New York City art scene since the early 1970s, I must admit that some of my most memorable experiences have occurred in Tennessee. In 2012, it was the Tennessee State Museum where I saw and reviewed an exhibition of the politically charged, multi-media works of John Mellencamp. Later that same year it was the powerful and moving retrospective of the photography and videos of Carrie Mae Weems at The Frist Center for the Visual Arts, both in Nashville. (more…)

  • The Cove Pop-Up Exhibition, Providence, R.I.

    D. Dominick Lombardi

    Untitled, Raymond J., color pencil on paper

    Once in a while I stumble upon an exhibition that really opens my eyes and reorients my thinking and understanding of the creative process. The Cove Pop Up exhibition here in Providence, RI, which includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics and utilitarian objects, offers a great number of art works by talented individuals who are dealing with varying degrees of debilitating issues. The exhibition theme is one that should enlighten many, revealing how creative and honest one can be as an individual when unencumbered by thoughts of High Art or fashionable trends. These free-thinking and enlightening individuals are working with the very successful programs offered through The Cove, RHD-RI, Flying Shuttle Studios and edge+end where “adults with developmental disabilities reach their goals” with the creation of some pretty amazing and illuminating works of art. (more…)

  • Brecht’s ‘The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui,’ at NYC’s Classic Stage Company

    Edward Rubin

    Raúl Esparza (Arturo Ui) , Elizabeth A. Davis (Girl) in Classic Stage production of ‘The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui’. All photos: Joan Marcus.

    “Every day I read the play, I think, I hear the words these words on CNN as I read them on the page. The play will be falling right around the midterm elections, and it is fitting that it reminds us of the choices that are available to us in relation to the way the world can go. That really is the foundation of what classical theater says. Classic plays have politics at their heart-you take a play like Richard III or the Scottish Play—they’re warnings. And there’s a warning in Arturo Ui. This is a time for theater to say something; if we’re not screaming and shouting now, when are we ever going to do it?”

    — John Doyle, Artistic Director of Classic Stage Company

    For those who love the work being done at the Classic Stage Company and Bertolt Brecht, both of which I do, you had better run to see The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, as its curtain goes down on Saturday, December 22, 2018. Written in 1941, when Brecht was living in exile in Helsinki, Finland, just before he decamped to Hollywood, the play chronicles the rise of Arturo Ui a fictional 1930s Capone-like Chicago mobster and his ruthless attempts to control the cauliflower market by forcefully selling protection to business owners, ironically from his own men. (more…)

  • New York’s Public Theater: Glenn Close in ‘The Mother of the Maid’

    Edward Rubin

    Grace Van Patten (Joan Arc), Glenn Close (Isabelle Arc), in Public Theater’s production of ‘Mother of the Maid.’ All photos, unless otherwise noted, Joan Marcus.

    People on trial, especially women that end up being executed, make good theatre and film, as well as subjects of art. The two reigning queens whose lives still continue to resonate long after their deaths are Marie Antoinette (1755-1793), the last Queen of France, who literally lost her head, and Jeanne d’Arc (1412-1431) who went up in flames nearly seven centuries ago. Done in by politics, both were captured, jailed, put on trial, dragged through the streets and summarily executed, as a kind of entertainment before a boisterous crowd of unruly citizens. And ever since their demise each continue to be resuscitated, again and again, in both fictive and non-fictive modes, for the viewing, listening, and reading pleasure of those of us still alive. (more…)

  • New York Gallery, Elga Wimmer PCC: ‘The Safarani Sisters: Reincarnation’

    Mary Hrbacek

    Bahareh and Farzandeh Safarani, “5:30 a.m. In the Basement,” Oil paintings on canvas overlaid with video projection, 60×36 inches, 2018.

    Roya Khadjavi Projects presents “The Safarani Sisters: Reincarnation,” a series of fourteen new video-paintings in which the identical-twin Iranian sisters, Bahareh and Farzandeh Safarani, create a plausible world of visual intrigue.  The exhibit features the artists in a performance-based genre of photography, painting and video. Reincarnation refers to the rebirth of one’s psyche into a new body, but here it is the twins’ inner life that undergoes a process of transformation. The Safaranis incorporate the ambient play of shadow, light and reflection to stress interior versus exterior reality in their psychologically potent episodic narratives.  The video projections create convincing atmospheric visual and kinesthetic effects.  Windows play an important role as metaphoric unconscious portals that signify each twin’s quest for self-revelation. (more…)

  • George Shaw: ‘Corner of a Foreign Field’ at Yale Center For British Art

    Mary Hrbacek

    George Shaw, “Ash Wednesday: 7.00am,” 2004–5, Humbrol enamel on board, Private Collection, courtesy of the artist and the Anthony Wilkinson Gallery, London, © George Shaw 2018.

    In his complex exhibition “A Corner of a Foreign Field, realist English painter George Shaw undertakes a time traveling odyssey to investigate the flourishing forested environs and the remains of Tile Hill, the post war council estate in England where he grew up. From 1996 to 2018, Shaw produced 70 paintings, prints, sketchbooks and 60 drawings that poignantly capture, in a “before” and “after” sequel, images of what a relatively short time ago was a vibrant neighborhood as it atrophies from neglect. The show is subdivided into ten themes that evolve through the course of the exhibition: there is “Recording a World,” “Landmarks and Memorials,” “Graffiti and Abstraction,” “Ash Wednesday,” and “The End of Time,” to name but a few.  The artist blends references to art history, personal memory, popular culture and 70s political realities to create a convincing amalgam of visual art whose reminiscent energy can be viscerally felt. (more…)

  • Washington, D.C.’s Ford Theatre with ‘Born Yesterday’: Delicious!

    Amy Henderson

    Kimberly Gilbert (Billy Dawn), in the Ford’s Theatre production of ‘Born Yesterday.’ All photos: Carol Rosegg.

    Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., has just opened a delicious revival of Garson Kanin’s 1946 play, Born Yesterday. The original Broadway production starred Judy Holliday as showgirl Billie Dawn, and she won a Best Actress Oscar for that role in the 1950 movie.

    Ford’s has kept Kanin’s script intact, and director Aaron Posner explained that they believed this comedy about personal transformation and “the complex underbelly of politics” would resonate with today’s audiences (Ford’s press release). (more…)

  • Three Exhibitions at New York’s Hammond Museum & Japanese Stroll Garden

    D. Dominick Lombardi

    Sam Bartman, Majestic Waters (2001), mixed media on reflective plastic sheet, 17 x 17″.

    With three exhibitions opening at the Hammond Museum, the big surprise is the work of Sam Bartman. Born in Brooklyn, NY in 1922, Bartman has spent the last 60 years of his life creating stirring paintings that combine some of the most the incompatible materials. In experimenting with what he calls his “special sauce”, Bartman has somehow tamed a mix of resins, varnishes, motor oil, glitter and automotive paints with oils and acrylics that results in everything from endlessly crackling surfaces to minute swirling storms of color. There are even the occasional brushstrokes that push the variously drying materials around, leaving fossil-like impressions of battered brush hairs sorrowfully spent in a furious wake of swished paint. (more…)

  • Arendt-Heidegger: A Love Story Brought to the Stage

    Edward Rubin

    “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e. the reality of experience) and the distinction between the true and the false (i.e. the standards of thought) no longer exist.” – Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), left.

    Thinking is not merely l’engagement dans l’action [engagement in the action] for and by beings, in the sense of the actuality of the present situation. Thinking is l’engagement by and for the truth of Being. The history of Being is never past but stands ever before; it sustains and defines every condition et situation humaine – Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), above, right

    In bringing the lives of political theorist and philosophical thinker Hannah Arendt and philosopher Martin Heidegger to the stage at The Theatre for the New City – the play ran through October 14 – playwright Douglas Lackey, known for his historically grounded, highly-researched, and deeply thought out plays (Kaddish in East Jerusalem, Daylight Precision, A Garroting in Toulouse), has now tackled an historical subject more directly related to his so-called ‘other life’, that of a practicing professor of philosophy.

    Through a series of 23 trenchantly sketched scenes in two acts, the Arendt-Heidegger play billed as a love story, covers the years 1924 when the brilliant, and wide-eyed, 18-year-old Hannah Arendt – some forty years before she coined the eponymous term ‘banality of evil’ which brought her world-wide fame – first meets her teacher,  the 35-year-old, the philosopher Martin Heidegger, soon to be lionized for his book Being and Time (1927), and ends in 1964 in a dramatic confrontation between both parties. (more…)

  • Lunch with Georgia O’Keeffe (at the New York Botanical Garden)

    Edward Rubin

    New York Botanical Gardens, Enid A. Haupt Conservatory

    The most magical ‘back to nature’ attraction for out-of-town-tourists, as well as native dwellers, is New York’s City’s Botanical Garden, situated in the Bronx. With over 250 acres, containing unique tropical and desert habitats, rose and rock gardens, a lily pond filled with goldfish that come to the surface to talk to you, the county’s largest Victorian-era glass house, and miles of lushly planted paths to both walk or tram, this National Historic Landmark preserve is a wonderful way to spend a glorious day.  And most astonishing is a 50 acre old-growth forest of massive maples, oaks, and chestnuts that has stood, blessedly so, unmoved since the American Revolution. I might add for those that love to shop and eat, there are two eateries, two picnic areas if you prefer to bring your own lunch which I and three friends did, and a wonder-filled gift shop, offering Botanical Garden-raised plants of all kinds for sale. One of those is currently gracing my living room. (more…)