June 13, 2018

I had this dream America.

Ray Davies, from “The Great Highway”

By Stuart Mitchner

The fate of this week’s column was decided when I saw a boyhood hero on the obituary page of Friday’s New York Times. The AP photo under the charismatic words St. Louis Cardinal Star shows Red Schoendienst leapfrogging over a baserunner and firing the ball in the direction of the greatest Cardinal of them all, his roommate and close friend Stan Musial.  more

“RED SPOTTED NEWT”: Janice Annunziata’s photograph was selected as the winner of the Delaware River Basin’s (DRBC) Spring 2018 Photo Contest. The DRBC’s seasonal photo contest was founded to highlight amateur and professional photography representing the beauty, diversity, function, and significance of the water resources of the Delaware River Basin.

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) has announced that Janice Annunziata’s photograph, titled “Red Spotted Newt,” was chosen as the winner of the commission’s Spring 2018 Photo Contest. Twenty-two photographs were submitted by 15 individuals for the contest. more

“THE UNIVERSE IS A GREEN DRAGON”: D&R Greenway Land Trust presents a special exhibition by award-winning environmental artist Cameron (Cami) Davis. “Cosmophilia” will be on view June 21 through July 25 in D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center in Princeton. A reception and lecture are on Thursday, June 21, from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

For a limited time only, D&R Greenway Land Trust is presenting a special exhibition by award-winning environmental artist Cameron (Cami) Davis. “Cosmophiliawill be on view June 21 through July 25 in D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center, 1 Preservation Place, Princeton. There will be a reception and lecture on Thursday, June 21, 5:30 to 7 p.m. RSVP at rsvp@drgreenway.org.  more

By Nancy Plum

Summer brings many traditions to the Princeton area: the P-rade, fireworks on Reunions weekend, and other signs that three months of summer days stretch out ahead. One musical tradition which has become a staple of audience calendars is the Concordia Chamber Players concert which opens the Princeton Festival each year. Concordia Artistic Director Michelle Djokic annually brings an ensemble of refined chamber music players to Miller Chapel, and this year in particular set the tone for the festival with a performance of dramatic late 19th and early 20th-century music. more

By Kam Williams

The original Ocean’s 11 (1960) starred Frank Sinatra and a group of fellow Las Vegas headliners called the Rat Pack. The film was remade in 2001 with George Clooney starring as Danny Ocean along with ten other film stars. The story was again set in Vegas and also was about an elaborate casino heist. The picture was such a hit it spawned a couple of successful sequels, Ocean’s Twelve (2004) and Thirteen (2007).

Ocean’s 8 is a refreshing departure from the original series. In addition to featuring an all-female gang, the film is set in New York City instead of Las Vegas. more

June 6, 2018

By Kam Williams

Mechanic Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) is a vanishing breed. He’s an an old school grease monkey who rolls up his sleeves and repairs classic cars without the help of diagnostic computers.

He asks his wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo), to follow him in her self-driving car so he can return the Pontiac Firebird that he’s just finished working on to its owner, high-tech mogul Eron King (Harrison Gilbertson). The eccentric billionaire has a subterranean research laboratory hidden just beneath the ocean’s shoreline. He proudly tells Asha and Grey about his company’s latest invention, an implantable computer chip that is programmed with artificial intelligence (AI). more

“SMALL WORLD”: Nikon’s annual “Small World” photomicrography competition features photographic images showcasing the beauty and complexity of life as seen through a microscope. Dr. Bram van den Broek of The Netherlands Cancer Institute took first place in this year’s competition for his photo of a skin cell expressing an excessive amount of keratin. The top 20 images are on view at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton Through July 15.

The New Jersey State Museum is presenting Nikon “Small World” exhibition through July 15. “Small World” is Nikon’s annual photomicrography competition, featuring photographic images showcasing the beauty and complexity of life as seen through a microscope. The top 20 images are included in the exhibition, which is on view adjacent to the Planetarium lobby.  more

“YELLOW EXTRACTION”: This painting by Charles Evans is featured in “American Moderns: The Legacy of Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest,” running through October 21 at the James A. Michener Art Museum is Doylestown, Pa. A gallery talk is Thursday, June 7 at 3 p.m.

The James A. Michener Art Museum presents “American Moderns: The Legacy of Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest,” an exhibition that showcases the gifts of the Lenfest family and explores their lasting impact on the museum’s legacy. “American Moderns” will be on view through October 21. more

By Stuart Mitchner

As soon as news of the Normandy invasion reached the office of baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, the games scheduled for June 6, 1944 were cancelled. According to mlb.com, such a thing had happened only once before, on the day President Warren G. Harding died on August 2, 1923. Go figure: this is the man who until recently was considered by many to be the worst American president. And did you know that future Yankee Hall of Famer Yogi Berra was a Seaman Second class in a rocket boat stationed off the coast of Normandy on D-Day providing fire support for the invasion? Interviewed by Keith Olbermann on June 6, 2004, Yogi recalled, “Well, being a young guy [he had just turned 19], I thought it was like the Fourth of July, to tell you the truth. I said, ‘Boy, it looks pretty, all the planes coming over.’ And I was looking out and my officer said, ‘you better get your head down in here, if you want it on.’” more

May 30, 2018

By Kam Williams

Deanna Miles (Melissa McCarthy) was a junior in college when she became pregnant and dropped out of school to have the baby. She married her boyfriend, Dan (Matt Walsh), who finished his degree and started his career while she remained a stay-at-home mom.

Fast forward to the present and we see the couple dropping off their now-grown daughter Maddie (Molly Gordon) at their alma mater, Decatur University, where she’s about to begin her senior year. She’s moving back in with her girlfriends at the Theta Mu Gamma sorority house.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

One of the photos of Philip Roth (1933-2018) published with last week’s New York Times obituary was taken at Princeton in 1964. He’s leaning on a table, his head propped on one hand. Dressed in a suit and tie, he’s looking less like a writer-in-residence than a weary ballplayer, Hank Greenberg all dressed up in civvies after a grueling game. The check-out desk and display case in the background suggest that the photo was taken at Firestone Library. Roth is 31, in the last year of his two-year teaching stint at the University.

According to Sylvia Tumin, this was around the time Roth was “breaking up with Maggie,” his first wife, with whom he had been living in a small ranch house that used to occupy the corner of Mountain Avenue and Bayard Lane. Writing in response to my August 20, 2008 column “The Diamond as Big as America: A Whirlwind Tour of Philip Roth,” Sylvia informed me that during his time at Princeton Roth had been a close friend of her husband, sociologist Melvin Tumin, the inspiration for the protagonist of The Human Stain (2000). more

“CONTINUUM”: Illia Barger will give an artist presentation at the West Windsor Arts Council’s Art of the Pour event on Saturday, June 16, from 4-7 p.m. at the West Windsor Arts Center. Barger is known for her many murals in the Princeton and Trenton area as well as for her flower paintings. The mural pictured here can be found in downtown Princeton.

The West Windsor Arts Council (WWAC) presents its second annual Art of the Pour event featuring wine education, tastings, and an artist presentation on Saturday, June 16 from 4-7 p.m. at the West Windsor Arts Center. This year the WWAC is joined by Illia Barger, known for her many murals in the Princeton and Trenton area as well as her masterful flower paintings.  more

The work of multimedia artist Swoon and others is featured in “Multiple Ones: Contemporary Perspectives in Printmedia.” Now at the Hunterdon Art Museum in Clinton, the exhibition runs until September 2.

May 23, 2018

By Stuart Mitchner

Stretching across two pages of the November 1963 issue of Esquire Magazine is a title flamboyantly geared to catch the reader’s eye: “There goes (VAROOM! VAROOM!) that Kandy-Kolored (THPHHHHHH!) Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby (RAHGHHHH!) around the bend (BRUMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM …)”

Left in the dust in the far right corner in relatively tiny letters is the author’s name, Thomas K. Wolfe, soon to become Tom Wolfe. When he died last week at 88, the words most often used by obituary writers scrambling to describe Wolfe’s pop-flavored prose style were “pyrotechnical” or “pyrotechnics.” Variations included “technicolor, wildly punctuated” in the New York Times, where Dwight Garner’s tribute highlighted the “bursts of asterisks, the scattering of exclamation points and ellipses, the syncopated distribution of repeated phrases and capitalized words.” The Washington Post weighed in by rightly drawing attention to “all that onomatopoeia.” more

By Nancy Plum

Like a successful garden, it takes a long time to develop and nourish a performing ensemble. Princeton Singers began 35 years ago as a volunteer chorus singing English cathedral music, madrigals, and folksongs, and has grown like a weed under the direction of only two conductors: Founding Director John Bertalot and current Artistic Director Steven Sametz. The ensemble is celebrating its 35th anniversary this season, paying credit to its past and present, while looking ahead to the future. The Singers is especially proud of its emergence as a leading professional vocal ensemble performing a wide range of repertoire with a commitment to contemporary music, and its closing concert of this season demonstrated why the chorus is justifiably proud of its musical heritage. more

“TOTEM WINTER WREN”: This watercolor by Beatrice Bork is featured in “Joy of Nature,” a joint exhibit with artist Carol Sanzalone, running June 7 through July 1 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. An opening reception with the artists will be held on Saturday, June 9 from 5 to 8:30 p.m.

Fine artists Beatrice Bork and Carol Sanzalone will exhibit paintings expressing their personal visions of the splendor of nature in the featured artists exhibit at the Artists’ Gallery, 18 Bridge Street, in Lambertville. Their paintings, celebrating the “Joy of Nature,” combine images of Bork’s admiration of animals and Sanzalone’s sense of place through color and texture. They will be on exhibit from June 7 to July 1. more

“LADY WITH BLUE BIRD”: This mixed media collage by Susan Winter of Hightstown is featured in “Mercer County Artists 2018,” at the MCCC Gallery through July 9.  The show includes 28 pieces by 21 county artists. An awards reception takes place Wednesday, May 23 from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

The talents of 21 Mercer County artists are on display at the Gallery at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) in “Mercer County Artists 2018,” which runs through July 9. The Gallery at Mercer is located on the second floor of the Communications Building on Mercer’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. more

“SNAEFELLSNES PENINSULA, ICELAND”: This photo by Michael A. Smith is featured in “View Finders: Four Photographic Voices,” an exhibition showcasing the work of four photographers from the Delaware Valley. “View Finders” is at the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., from May 26 to August 26.

Beginning May 26, the James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., will present “View Finders: Four Photographic Voices,” an exhibition showcasing the contemporary work of four photographers in the Delaware Valley: Paula Chamlee, Catherine Jansen, Brian H. Peterson, and Michael A. Smith. “View Finders” will be open through August 26. more

By Kam Williams

Who is Pope Francis? Baptized Jorge Mario Bergoglio, he was born in Argentina on December 17, 1936. He would follow his calling at an early age by entering the seminary while still in his teens.

After being ordained, he began his career teaching theology. He was appointed archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1998, and subsequently named a cardinal three years later by John Paul II.

When he became pope in March of 2013, he made history by being the first Jesuit, the first from the Americas, and the first Francis. He took that name in honor of Francis of Assisi, the saint generally regarded as the one most closely mirroring Christ’s compassion for the poor. more

May 16, 2018

By Kam Williams

As an adolescent, Sean (Robert Sheehan) moved with his mother from Ireland to Portland, Oregon so that his stepfather could take a construction job. Seven years later, Sean has become an aspiring artist who is eking out a living parking cars at a trendy restaurant.

He and a fellow valet, Derek (Carlito Olivero), devise a plan to burglarize the homes of the well-to-do customers while they’re dining. The scheme seems like an easy source of money, since most people hand over all their keys when they check their vehicles.

Unfortunately, the pair didn’t consider that they might break into the house of a homicidal maniac who was in the midst of a killing spree. That’s precisely what happened the night they decided to rob Cale Erendreich (David Tennant), whose multimillion-dollar mansion was just minutes away from the restaurant. more

By Stuart Mitchner

It’s too soon to write at length about A Village in France (Un village français) a television series available on Hulu that at this writing, after five outstanding seasons, belongs in the company of The Sopranos, The Wire, Deadwood, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones.

When a series is this unique and engaging, powerful and true, it renews your interest in the nation that for two intense weeks has been at the center of your viewing life. You want to know more about the German occupation and the Resistance. You want to go back to films like Grand Illusion and Army of Shadows, directors such as Jean Renoir and Jean-Pierre Melville, writers like Albert Camus and composers like Claude Debussy, who died 100 years ago, March 25, 1918, the last year of the Great War.  more

“TURNING OFF THE MORNING NEWS”: Performances are underway for “Turning Off the Morning News.” Directed by Artistic Director Emily Mann, the play runs through June 3 at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. From left: Jimmy (John Pankow) and Polly (Kristine Nielsen) make a memorable, if undesirable, first impression on new neighbors Salena (Rachel Nicks) and Clifford (Robert Sella). (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

middle-aged father, Jimmy, nonchalantly announces his decision to shoot either his wife Polly and their 13-year-old son Timmy, or strangers at a mall. Polly attempts to ignore Jimmy’s behavior by focusing on her houseplant, and dreaming of going to heaven. Dysfunctional characters and horrifying events are viewed through the lens of a wholesome family sitcom. more

“BARBARA SIGMUND”: This stitched fabric page by Princeton Mayor Liz Lempert is part of the “Interwoven Stories International” exhibit, on view in the Arts Council of Princeton’s Taplin Gallery at 102 Witherspoon Street through June 23.

The Arts Council of Princeton presents “Interwoven Stories International,” three-hole fabric pages, stitched with memories, places, and people, speaking to the generosity, diversity, spirit, commitment and creativity of an international stitching community. more

SMALL WORKS ART SHOW: Artist Paul Hoffman, a native of Hunterdon County, will be painting at the Small Works Art Show at 123 Main Street in Flemington on May 19 and 20. The art show will benefit Friends of Historic Flemington, which is working to preserve historic buildings in the town.

“Interested in original art by area artists? Come to the Small Works Art Show, and support local history at the same time,” says Catherine Langley, co-chair of the event, which will benefit Friends of Historic Flemington.

The show and sale will be Saturday, May 19 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, May 20 from noon to 6 p.m., at 123 Main Street, Flemington. An artists’ reception is planned for Saturday from 6 to 8 p.m., with live music and refreshments. The public is welcome. more

This oil painting by Merrilee Drakulich is featured in “Layers of the Earth: From Core to Cloud,” on exhibit at D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center in Princeton through June 15. A reception is Friday, May 18 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.