December 19, 2018

PDS STEAM EXHIBIT: Digital and physical displays of student-created shoes are one of many STEAM projects on display at the Anne Reid ’72 Art Gallery at Princeton Day School now through January 11.

An exhibit of STEAM-based student innovations is featured at Princeton Day School’s Anne Reid ‘72 Art Gallery through January 11. The Gallery is open to the public and all are welcome to explore the exhibit during school hours on days when classes are in session.

User-centered design thinking is at the heart of the innovations on display, which were developed to solve real-world challenges and user needs in multiple STEAM courses offered at PDS (along with a few independent projects submitted by students). The School’s STEAM faculty team has developed a curricular approach that relies on facilitating students to empathize with end-users and their challenges, desires, and needs, then ideate possible methods and solutions, prototype ideas into physical or digital form, and test their designs to observe, collect feedback, and refine their efforts. more

By Nancy Plum

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra returned to Richardson Auditorium last Friday night for its annual presentation of George Frideric Handel’s immortal holiday classic Messiah. Led by conductor Patrick Dupré Quigley, 35 members of New Jersey Symphony, along with four vocal soloists and the Montclair State University Singers, presented an interpretation of Handel’s complex work which, although numbers were cut here and there, still conveyed the story well.   

With so few instrumentalists, expertly supported by harpsichordist Aya Hamada and portatif organist John Miller as continuo players, the performance was consistently light and precise. A vocal quartet comprised of soprano Margot Rood, countertenor Reginald Mobley, tenor Steven Soph, and bass Charles Wesley Evans provided much of the work’s drama through arias and recitatives, with Quigley’s tempi moving the music along quickly.  more

The Thomas Edison Media Arts Consortium has announced a new partnership with the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University for the Black Maria Film Festival’s 38th annual Festival tour in 2019.  This new partnership will include the premiere screening at Princeton University on February 9, support for the tour of the festival, and multiple opportunities for students to engage with the festival and its filmmakers.

Black Maria Film Festival attracts and nationally showcases the work of independent film and video makers. The festival is a project of the Thomas Edison Media Arts Consortium, an independent nonprofit organization. The festival was founded in 1981 as a tribute to Thomas Edison’s development of the motion picture at his laboratory, dubbed the “Black Maria” film studio, the first in the world, in West Orange, New Jersey. more

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS: Holly (Julia Roberts) welcomes her son Ben (Lucas Hedges) home with open arms on Christmas Eve, even though he left a drug rehab facility without permission. She soon comes to regret that decision in the harrowing family drama Ben Is Back. (Photo Courtesy of Black Bear Pictures)

Holly (Julia Roberts) and Neal (Courtney B. Vance) are raising a family in a quaint country home in upstate New York, ostensibly far removed from the sort of woes that plague the inner city. It’s Christmas Eve, and we meet Holly in church where she’s patiently watching three of her four kids practicing for the Christmas pageant.

However, looks can be deceiving, since missing from the idyllic picture is her eldest child, Ben (Lucas Hedges). The troubled 19-year-old has been living at a drug rehab center, where he’s managed to keep clean for the past 77 days.  more

December 12, 2018

By Stuart Mitchner

The first thing you see when you walk into Nature’s Nation: American Art and Environment at the Princeton University Art Museum could be called an act of war. Or you could downgrade it to a metaphor for climate change like the one recently used by scientists comparing greenhouse gas emissions to “a speeding freight train.” However you frame the dynamic, it happens as your eyes move from the majesty of Albert Bierstadt’s Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite (ca. 1871-73) to Valerie Hegarty’s travesty Fallen Bierstadt (2007). According to an online video narrated by Hegarty, she painted her own version of the Bierstadt and then, in effect, blew it up, leaving a hole in the bottom half, the remains scattered in a pile of papier-mâché debris on the gallery floor that museum aides have to occasionally rearrange. The artist says her intention was to simulate “acts of entropy, as if maybe the painting went over the falls and was left to decay.”


“A CHRISTMAS CAROL”: Performances are underway for “A Christmas Carol.” Directed by Adam Immerwahr, the play runs through December 29 at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre. Bob Cratchit (Jon Norman Schneider, second from left) and Mrs. Cratchit (Sharin Martin, back right) celebrate with their children, played by members of the young ensemble (from left): Alexander Perez, Ethan Chang, Romy Johnson, and Alicianna Rodriguez. (Photo by Mark Garvin)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

A Christmas Carol has returned to McCarter Theatre. To fully experience this annual production, audiences should arrive well before curtain time. Dressed in costumes that evoke Dickensian London, adult members of the community ensemble circulate the lobby. They are eager to discuss a model of the set, or to serenade anyone who will join them in a spirited rendition of “Jingle Bells.” more

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance will present a series of showings of dances, new choreography, and visual artworks created by students during the past semester on December 12 and 14 and January 17 in various locations in the Lewis Arts complex on the Princeton University campus. All performances are free and open to the public.

On Wednesday, December 12 at 1 p.m. in the Forum, there will be a presentation from “Introduction to Contemporary Dance,” taught by Alexandra Beller. In this course, students tried on various identities within dance — mover, creator, performer, writer, historian — in an attempt to learn holistically about contemporary dance. Following at 3:15 p.m. in the Hearst Dance Theater there will be a presentation from “The American Dance Experience and Africanist Dance Practices,” a popular studio course taught by Dyane Harvey-Salaam that introduces students to American dance aesthetics and practices, with a focus on how its evolution has been influenced by African American choreographers and dancers. more

December 5, 2018

By Stuart Mitchner

The woman on the cover of  Junctures in Women’s Leadership: The Arts (Rutgers Univ. Press $24.95) is coming right at you, radiant with spirit and energy, a serpent clutched in one hand, a flowing gold-spangled blue cape in the other, her skirt flaring above her powerful thighs. The sense is that she’s breaking through barriers, leading the way, ferocious, unstoppable, the enemy of oppression and complacency (the fallen angel she’s crushing under her running shoes is “said to be” a symbol of patriarchy). 

Although the book’s co-authors, Princeton residents Judith K. Brodsky and Ferris Olin, wisely chose Yolanda M. López’s Portrait of the Artist as the Virgin of Guadalupe (1978) for the cover, the artist herself is not included among the 13 case histories inside. Given the situation at the Mexican border, a brief account of López’s background is worth giving here. Born in 1942, she is a third-generation Chicana whose grandparents migrated from Mexico to the U.S., crossing the Rio Bravo in a boat under fire from the Texas rangers. The same year she painted her controversial self-portrait as part of a series paying homage to working class Mexican women, she created a political poster titled Who’s the Illegal Alien, Pilgrim? showing an angry young man in an Aztec headdress holding a crumpled up paper titled “Immigration Plans.” The woman who made that dramatic Rio Bravo crossing is depicted in the Guadalupe series sitting on the blue cape worn by her artist-warrior granddaughter with the skin of the snake in her lap and a knife in her right hand. About the image of her grandmother, López says “She’s holding the knife herself because she’s no longer struggling with life and sexuality. She has her own power.” more

WOMEN IN THE ARTS: Ferris Olin, left, and Judith K. Brodsky will be at Labyrinth Books on Thursday, December 6 at 6 p.m., to discuss their book, “Junctures in Women’s Leadership: The Arts.”(Photograph by Nick Romanenko)

Princeton residents Judith K. Brodsky and Ferris Olin will be at Labyrinth discussing their book, Junctures in Women’s Leadership: The Arts (Rutgers Univ. Press) on Thursday, December 6 at 6 p.m.

Concerning this third volume of the series Junctures: Case Studies in Women’s Leadership, edited by Mary K. Trigg, Brodsky says, “the genesis of this series is the fact that there are virtually no case studies of women leaders. Harvard Business School, the primary publisher of case studies on leadership, has published thousands on men, and almost none on women. This series, while aimed at the general public, is also intended to fill that gap and provide meaningful biographies of women to inspire students to take on leadership.”  more

The Arts Council of Princeton’s ceramics community is hosting its third annual Soul-Filled Bowls fundraiser event on Saturday, December 15, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Arts Council’s Taplin Gallery, 102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton. The public is invited to purchase handmade bowls by local ceramic artists for $25 each, and enjoy a bowl of soup courtesy of the Blawenburg Café and The Salad and Smoothie Market, with fresh bread provided by Brick Farm Market. Funds raised will benefit Meals on Wheels and Isles. For more information, visit

By Nancy Plum

Venezuela-born conducting wunderkind Gustavo Dudamel is known to audiences in the United States primarily as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, a position he has held for 10 years. However, Dudamel’s reach and effect on musical performance and education worldwide has been much more, and Princeton is now part of this impact through an artist-in-residency collaboration between Dudamel and Princeton University Concerts, as part of the University Concerts’ 125th Anniversary year-long celebration. In a three-part residency entitled “Uniting Our World Through Music,” beginning this past weekend and continuing into the spring of 2019, Dudamel will be in residency at the University, coaching both campus and off-campus ensembles, conducting the University Orchestra and Glee Cub, and participating in panel discussions on the impact of music on social change. The first of these concerts took place this past Saturday night and Sunday afternoon in Richardson Auditorium. more

By Donald H. Sanborn III

In The Luck of the Irish, an African American woman discovers that a transaction, necessitated by racial injustice, may prevent her from owning the house she has inherited from her grandparents. Written by Kirsten Greenidge, this play derives its central conflict from the determination of parents to provide a space — and a future — in which their children belong. more

DRIVING MR. SHIRLEY: Classical pianist Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali, right) hires Tony Lip Vallelonga (Viggo Mortensen), a bouncer from the Bronx, to drive him on an eight-week concert tour across the Deep South in the 1960s in the fact-based film Green Book. (Photo courtesy of Universal Pictures)

By Kam Williams

Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) was a promising prodigy whose formal training in classical piano began when he was admitted to Russia’s prestigious Leningrad Conservatory at the age of 9. Because he was raised in Florida in the Jim Crow Era, it was very unlikely that his extraordinary talent would be appreciated anywhere in the South upon his return to the states.

The North was decidedly different. While still in his teens, Shirley was invited by conductor Arthur Fielder to perform with the Boston Pops Orchestra. He would later compose symphonies for the New York Philharmonic and was even allowed to rent an apartment above Carnegie Hall. more

AN ANNUAL TRADITION: Katie Welsh ends her Fall Cabaret Series at the Arts Council of Princeton with a special program on December 8.

Singer Katie Welsh will end her Fall Cabaret Series at the Arts Council of Princeton with “Happy Holidays! From Broadway & Hollywood” on Saturday, December 8 at 7:30 p.m.

Welsh’s “informative cabaret” approach provides some insights between songs. As she describes it, “So many great seasonal songs, from ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ to ‘Silver Bells’ became famous as standalone standards but originated in musicals on stage and screen. This concert is a fun opportunity to not only enjoy your favorite holiday tunes, but also learn a bit more about their original contexts and backstories.” more

November 28, 2018

By Stuart Mitchner

We begin in the Automat. What better place to launch a column on William Blake’s birthday than with the first encounter between two of his most passionate advocates, Patti Smith and Allen Ginsberg?

Smith’s endlessly readable 2010 memoir Just Kids offers only a few clues as to exactly where and when this chance meeting took place. Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe were living at the Chelsea Hotel at the time (I’m guessing late sixties); “a few doors down” was the Capitol Fishing tackle shop, a favorite source for two artists determined to transform “the insignificant into the divine.” According to Smith, “Horn and Hardart, the queen of Automats, was just past the tackle shop,” which puts the site in question at 202 West 23rd Street.

The routine was “to get a seat and a tray, then go to the back wall where there were rows of little windows. You would slip some coins in to a slot, open the glass hatch, and extract a sandwich or fresh apple pie. A real Tex Avery eatery.” On this “drizzly afternoon,” Patti has eyes for a cheese-and-lettuce sandwich with mustard on a poppy seed roll. After putting all the money she has — 55 cents — into the slot, she can’t get the window open because the price has gone up to 65 cents. When a voice behind her says “Can I help?” she turns around and sees a man with “dark intense eyes” and a “dark curly beard.” Yes, it’s Allen Ginsberg. They’d never met “but there was no mistaking the face of one of our great poets and activists.”  more

“NOCTURNE III”: The paintings of Princeton artist Lucy Graves McVicker are now on display in “Reflections of Light,” The exhibit runs through March 1 at the Art for Healing Gallery at Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center.

The Art for Healing Gallery at Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center (PMC) is now featuring “Reflections of Light,” an exhibit of paintings by award-winning Princeton artist Lucy Graves McVicker. It runs through March 1.

A signature member of the American Watercolor Society, McVicker also works in oil, acrylic, and mixed media. Her work has been shown in more than 80 statewide, national, and international exhibitions, including 38 juried competitions.  more

Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC’s) James Kerney Campus Gallery (JKCG) presents “Gary Saretzky Retrospective — 1972 to the Present,” an exhibit that chronicles the work and influences of this well-known Lawrence photographer. The show runs through Thursday, January 10. A community reception and artist talk take place on Wednesday, December 5 from 5 to 7 p.m. The talk begins at 6 p.m.

JKCG is located in MCCC’s Trenton Hall, 137 North Broad Street, across the street from the James Kerney Building.

According to Michael Chovan-Dalton, the gallery’s director and curator, Gary Saretzky has been archiving — both professionally and personally — for most of his life. He was the archivist for Educational Testing Service (ETS) for 25 years and has been Monmouth County’s archivist since 1994. Since 1972, Saretzky has also been amassing a more personal archive of his life experiences and observations through photography.  more

Since its founding in 1920, the Westminster Choir has served as an American Choral Ambassador through its tours and performances in 29 countries. In October, they added one more nation to that list: China.

Westminster Choir was the only ensemble from the U.S. invited to participate in the 2018 Beijing International Students Chorus Festival. The trip was supported by Kaiwen Education, the company to which Rider University wants to sell Westminster Choir College. more

These original fused glass designs by artist Colleen Greene of Fire and Fusion will be among the items at the Arts Council of Princeton’s 25th annual holiday pop-up, Sauce for the Goose Market. The yearly December sale of unique works by area artisans and crafters features ceramics, glassware, ornaments, jewelry, textiles, and other forms of fine art and craft for handmade gifts. Sauce for the Goose Market is on Friday, November 30, 5 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, December 1, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, December 2, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The pop-up shop is located at the Princeton Shopping Center, next to Metropolis Spa & Salon. For more information, visit or call (609) 924.8777.

By Kam Williams

ALL TOGETHER NOW: From left, Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) Wagner form an Instant Family when they adopt siblings Lizzy (Isabela Moner), Lita (Julianna Gamiz), and Juan (Gustavo Quiroz). (Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

Pete (Mark Wahlberg) and Ellie (Rose Byrne) Wagner are speculators who make a living flipping real estate in their hometown of Atlanta. The couple’s latest acquisition is a fixer-upper with five bedrooms that they hope to sell to Ellie’s sister Kim (Allyn Rachel) and brother-in-law Russ (Tom Segura).

However, Kim and Russ aren’t in the market for a house that needs so much work. Furthermore, they’re childless with no plans to start a family. So, they simply have no use for a place that large. 

Pete and Ellie don’t have kids either, but they have been seriously considering adoption. In fact, they’ve even been checking out photos of available children online.  more

November 21, 2018

Held this year on November 23, 24, and 25, this self-guided tour features six professional artists’ studios in southern Hunterdon County, with and an additional ten artists in the Cultural Art Center in Sergeantsville. The works being shown are paintings, sculpture, pottery, glass, wooden bowls, hand-spun yarn and weavings, jewelry, basketry, and more. Participant can spend time in each studio talking to the artist and learning the inspiration and techniques of their art. Hours are Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information and a tour map, visit (Photo by Don Schoenleber)

“AUTUMN MIST”: This painting by Helen Meyers is featured in D&R Greenway Land Trust’s juried exhibit, “Lovely as a Tree,” on view through January 25 at the Johnson Education Center, 1 Preservation Place, Princeton. An opening reception is Friday, November 30 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

D&R Greenway Land Trust’s juried exhibition, “Lovely as a Tree,” includes the work of more than 80 artists responding to the words of poet Joyce Kilmer: “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree.” The artwork is on view through January 25, 2019 in the Marie L. Matthews Art Gallery at D&R Greenway’s Johnson Education Center, 1 Preservation Place, Princeton.

An opening reception is on Friday, November 30, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Phone (609) 924-4646 or to register for the reception.   more

Morven Museum & Garden’s 2018 Festival of Trees showcases “Holidays at Morven Through the Centuries,” with juried trees on display November 21 through January 6 in Morven Museum’s newly reimagined galleries.

“Morven’s annual Festival of Trees has been a holiday highlight for years, and this year we’re enhancing it by presenting ‘Holidays at Morven Through the Centuries,’” says Morven Executive Director Jill Barry.

Morven’s Festival of Trees is a juried collection of trees and mantles displayed throughout the museum’s galleries, upstairs and down. This year’s theme invites visitors to tour the newly reimagined first floor galleries, featuring trees inspired by 18th- through 20th-century décor; and the second floor galleries, where imagination runs free. more

By Nancy Plum

Princeton Symphony Orchestra explored three unique composers this past weekend in a Sunday afternoon concert in Richardson Auditorium. Bookending Niccolò Paganini’s monumental Violin Concerto No. 1 in D Major, Op. 6 were two 20th-century works written only two years apart. In a concert featuring musical surprises and ear-catching effects, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, together with an exciting and very contemporary violin soloist, performed to a spellbound audience in Richardson.  

Leoš Janáček’s 1926 Sinfonietta, as arranged by Erwin Stein, reflected the composer’s fascination with military bands and showed Janáček’s imagination in scoring each of the five movements for a different group of instruments. Led by Music Director Rossen Milanov, the musicians of Princeton Symphony played Janáček’s largest purely orchestral work cleanly and precisely. An effective pair of horns opened the first movement fanfare, together with exacting timpani and a quartet of trumpets. A Gypsy feel marked the second movement, which recalled Janáček’s hometown of Brno in what is now the Czech Republic, and elegant solos were heard form flutist Niles Watson, oboist Lillian Copeland, and later English horn player Lauren Williams. Throughout the five-movement work, Milanov kept the five musical vignettes flowing seamlessly, well capturing an atmosphere of Eastern Europe in the early part of the 20th century. more

By Anne Levin

Unity Phelan

Among the most accomplished alumni of Princeton Ballet School is Unity Phelan, a 23-year-old Princeton native who is now a soloist at the New York City Ballet. Phelan comes home this weekend to dance the role of the Sugar Plum Fairy in American Repertory Ballet (ARB)’s production of The Nutcracker at McCarter Theatre, Friday, November 23 at 2 and 7:30 p.m. (Princeton Ballet is the official school of American Repertory Ballet).

“I danced so many roles in this production while I was growing up,” said Phelan, who found time to reminisce in between rehearsals for New York City Ballet’s own month-long run of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at Lincoln Center’s Koch Theatre, in which she will alternate as the Sugar Plum Fairy and the Dewdrop. It is Balanchine’s version of the famous “Sugar Plum” pas de deux that Phelan, partnered by fellow New York City Ballet soloist Joseph Gordon, will dance at McCarter, though the rest of the ballet is ARB’s own version. more