October 2, 2019

“ROOFTOPS, NEW HOPE”: This painting by R.A.D. Miller (1905-1966) is featured in “Impressionism to Modernism: The Lenfest Collection of American Art,” on view at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., through January 5. The exhibit includes about 100 works by over 30 artists.

Now open at the Michener Museum in Doylestown, Pa., “Impressionism to Modernism: The Lenfest Collection of American Art” pays tribute to one of the Michener’s most impactful donors, Gerry Lenfest.

Lenfest and his wife, Marguerite, donated 59 Pennsylvania Impressionist paintings to the Michener in 1999. This comprehensive collection is the cornerstone of the Michener’s holdings of American Impressionism, with important works by Walter Emerson Baum, Fern Coppedge, John Fulton Folinsbee, Daniel Garber, William Lathrop, Edward Redfield, George Sotter, Robert Spencer, and Walter Elmer Schofield.

A compendium of Modernist works, donated by the Lenfests in 2010, rounds out this exhibition, featuring pieces by Charles Frederick Ramsey, Louis Stone, Charles Evans, Lloyd Ney, and Charles Rosen, among others. more

“TREASURE BOX”: The works of artist Holly Lee are on exhibit in “Holly Lee: A Jeweler’s Journey,” on view through January 5 at the Hunterdon Art Museum. Lee’s husband, ceramic artist Cliff Lee, also has a solo show running concurrently at the Museum.

For artist Holly Lee, many of the works featured in her new solo exhibition at the Hunterdon Art Museum (HAM) hold a special significance.

The majority of jewelry pieces in the show come from Lee’s personal collection. They include items she has held onto since she started making jewelry up to her most recent body of work, The Primitive Series.

“The pieces I’ve kept over the years are either the beginning of a series — the inspiration piece — or something I just loved and didn’t want to sell,” Lee said. “In one piece, I used so many of my different techniques that I kept it . . . for my children to have. Another is the first serious piece of jewelry I ever made. I was still in college and working in a jewelry store during the summer where I was sometimes given some time to work on whatever I wanted.” more

“CELTIC PAINTER”: This acrylic painting by William Plank is featured in “October Musings,” on view at the Lawrence Headquarters Branch of the Mercer County Library System October 3 through October 29. The exhibit also includes works by John A. Brecko Jr. and Helene Plank.

Opening on Thursday, October 3, and continuing through Tuesday, October 29, the Lawrence Headquarters Branch of the Mercer County Library will feature the artwork of William Plank, John A. Brecko Jr. and Helene Plank in “October Musings.”

A retired art teacher, painter, and illustrator, William Plank explores realism and fantasy in his acrylic paintings. John A. Brecko Jr. displays his expressive brush work and versatility throughout a range of subjects, including portraits and landscapes, in a contemporary style. Helene Plank, known for her signature mixed-media mosaics, shows her creativity in other media.

The “October Musings” art show will take place at The Lawrence Headquarters Branch of the Mercer County Library System, located at 2751 Brunswick Pike (Route 1), Lawrenceville. Library hours are Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call (609) 883-8294, email lawprogs@mcl.org, or visit www.mcl.org.

September 25, 2019

By Stuart Mitchner

You had such a vision of the street
As the street hardly understands…
—T.S. Eliot, from “Preludes”

I meant to be writing about the Beatles’ farewell album Abbey Road, which saw the light 50 years ago tomorrow, September 26. No chore that, far from it, but this is the last week of the regular baseball season, and when I should be thinking about London, all that comes to mind is that St. Louis — where T.S. Eliot was born on September 26, 1888 — is the home of the Cardinals, who clinched a spot in the playoffs Sunday and are looking to win the Central Division after sweeping a crucial four game series from the Cubs at Chicago, something that last happened in 1921.

It’s safe to say that St. Louis is not the city Tom Eliot was imagining when he wrote “Preludes.” But a poem suggesting that a street is capable of understanding a vision of itself tells me, hey, why worry about limits? Since Beatles and baseball are two of the best things in my life, there’s no reason why they can’t share the same column.  more

By Nancy Plum

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed more than 20 piano concerti which grace the repertories of symphony orchestras worldwide, but less than a handful of pieces for two pianos. To celebrate Rossen Milanov’s 10th anniversary as music director of the ensemble, Princeton Symphony Orchestra presented Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra in E-flat Major, featuring a 21st-century pair of virtuosic sisters in pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton. Bracketed by one of Mozart’s more popular operatic overtures and one of his more joyful symphonies, this Concerto proved to be the perfect vehicle to commemorate Milanov’s tenure as conductor of the Orchestra and welcome the audience to a new season.

Saturday night’s performance at Richardson Auditorium (the concert was repeated Sunday afternoon) also paid homage to former Princeton Professor Edward T. Cone’s role as pianist and mentor — the last time the Mozart double piano Concerto was performed by Princeton Symphony was with Cone himself and his student Robert Taub (who had his own extended history with the Orchestra) at the keyboards. Milanov and the Orchestra warmed up the audience with Mozart’s “Overture” to The Marriage of Figaro, an operatic standard since its premiere in 1786. Musically launched with lithe bassoon swirls, Mozart’s “Overture” was full of well-tapered lines and well-defined accents. Inner instrumental parts were heard well and the Orchestra effectively closed the work in a blaze of glory. more

“GLORIA: A LIFE”: Performances are underway for “Gloria: A Life.” Originally directed by Diane Paulus and restaged for McCarter by playwright Emily Mann, the play runs through October 6 at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. Gloria Steinem (Mary McDonnell, above) speaks at the 2017 Women’s March. (Photo by T. Charles Erickson)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

McCarter Theatre is presenting Gloria: A Life. Originally directed for off-Broadway by Diane Paulus, this groundbreaking drama has been restaged for McCarter by playwright Emily Mann. This production opens Mann’s 30th and final season as the company’s artistic director and resident playwright.

Gloria: A Life was conceived by actor Kathy Najimy. Najimy envisioned a show in which feminist activist and journalist Gloria Steinem would portray herself. Producer Daryl Roth presented the concept to André Bishop, the producing artistic director of Lincoln Center Theater, and Mann was commissioned to write the script. Ultimately Christine Lahti portrayed Steinem in the off-Broadway production, which opened at the Daryl Roth Theatre in 2018.

In McCarter’s current production Mary McDonnell portrays Steinem, who shares her life story with the audience in the first act. The shorter second act offers members of the audience an opportunity to react to the play, and share their own experiences. “The first act is Gloria’s life, and the history of the movement — and how those reflect on each other; the second part is about the audience,” Mann explains in a promotional video. more

RETURNING FOR A RECITAL: Westminster Choir College alumnus Gonzalo Aguilar will come back to the Westminster campus to present the first recital in the inaugural season of the Rinaldi Steinway Westminster Piano Alumni Series on Sunday, October 6 at 3 p.m.

Westminster Choir College alumnus Gonzalo Aguilar will return to the Westminster campus to present the first recital in the inaugural season of the Rinaldi Steinway Westminster Piano Alumni Series on Sunday, October 6 at 3 p.m. His performance will be in Bristol Chapel on the Westminster campus on Walnut Lane. Admission is free.

Aguilar will perform J. S. Bach’s Capriccio sopra la lontananza del suo fratello dilettissimo BWV 992, W. A. Mozart’s Fantasy in C minor, K. 475 and Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Sonata No. 2 Op. 36. more

Bisbee ’17, a film by Robert Greene, will be shown Thursday, September 26 at 7 p.m. at the James Stewart Film Theater, 185 Nassau Street, on the Princeton University campus. The film will be followed by a discussion with Greene and Vox film critic Alissa Wilkinson.

This film is part of the “Radical Nonfiction: Fantasy, Observation and Elasticity in the Documentary Film” series, organized by filmmaker Robert Greene and presented by the Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Visual Arts. Admission is free and open to the public.

Excerpts from some of Greene’s other films will also be shown. The series is put together by Greene to take the current pulse of the ever-changing documentary film form. “Documentary film is full of contradictions; the staged meets the observed, intervention meets the authentic,” he said. “Documentary film uses observation to show us the world we inhabit, but nonfiction images are also records of the fantasies of both filmmakers and subjects. What we believe, how we subjectively formulate our experiences — the fantasy of our own realities — can be captured and magnified by the camera and how we edit images together. This is documentary: an elastic, ever-changing attempt at working with the world as it is and as we hope it be.” more

Beppe Gambetta

Guitarist Beppe Gambetta returns to Princeton on Friday, October 11, at 8 p.m., when The Princeton Folk Music Society brings him to Christ Congregation Church, 50 Walnut Lane.

The concert is billed as a fusion of American and Italian folk music traditions. Gambetta taught himself to flat-pick by listening to bluegrass LPs. He combines the folk music of Italy and points east with the bluegrass style of Kentucky. While he may be best known for his picking prowess, he also is a talented vocalist. He sometimes likes to step away from the microphone so that the audience can enjoy the pure beauty of a performance without electronic enhancements. more

BECK TALK AT MORPETH: Bucks County artist Robert Beck will give a Gallery Talk on Sunday, September 29 at 2:30 p.m. at Morpeth Contemporary in Hopewell. It will focus on his paintings from the Delaware Valley, Maine, and New York.

Bucks County painter Robert Beck will discuss his studio images and how he develops them from inception to completion at a Gallery Talk at Morpeth Contemporary in Hopewell on Sunday, September 29 at 2:30 p.m. Beck will focus on paintings from the three locations he paints in most often: Maine, New York, and his home in the Delaware Valley.

This presentation marks the beginning of Morpeth’s recent association with Beck, representing and exhibiting his work in the area.  more

“ETHNIC EXPO”: An exhibit of Indian textiles will be on view October 5 through 30 at the Plainsboro Library. A reception with live demonstrations is Sunday, October 6 from 2 to 4 p.m.

“Ethnic Expo,” an exhibit of Indian textiles, opens at Plainsboro Library on October 5. Curated by Anita Kulkarni, the exhibit is designed as a visual and tactile experience that features both framed art and unframed art that can be touched. It is also educational, exploring the rich artistic traditions of India.

A reception will be held on Sunday, October 6, 2 to 4 p.m., where visitors can view live demonstrations of Warli and Madhubani handpainting styles (3:30-4 p.m.). The show runs through October 30. more

“THE POWER OF FACES”: A photograph of a family in a refugee camp in Mexico is featured in an exhibit of photographs on view at Princeton Public Library through November 30. The images are part of a global photojournalism project by Theresa Menders and Daniel Farber Huang.

An exhibit of photographs that put a human face on the worldwide refugee crisis is on view through November 30 at Princeton Public Library. Part of “The Power of Faces,” a global photojournalism project by Theresa Menders and Daniel Farber Huang, the images are displayed on the library’s second floor. more

“A GOLDEN FIELD”: This painting by Carol Sanzalone is featured in “Visual Harmony,” her joint exhibit with Gail Bracegirdle at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville, on view October 10 through November 3. An opening reception is Saturday, October 12 from 4 to 7 p.m.

Artists’ Gallery at 18 Bridge Street, Lambertville, will feature watercolor paintings by Gail Bracegirdle and Carol Sanzalone in “Visual Harmony,” from October 10 to November 3. An opening reception is Saturday, October 12 from 4 to 7 p.m. and Closing Tea is scheduled for Sunday, November 3 from 2 to 5 p.m. more

September 18, 2019

By Stuart Mitchner

The Wednesday after the Tuesday from Hell I’m in the Community Room at the old library setting up what will be the last Friends Book Sale before the move to a temporary location in the Princeton Shopping Center. Like most people in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, I’m still trying to deal with yesterday’s nightmare. So it’s good to have the distraction of a tiring, totally absorbing task. Although volunteers helped in the moving and unloading of donations, ultimately it’s up to me to get everything ready for the Friday morning opening, and I still have at least a hundred boxes to unpack and price. By the time I arrange stand-up signs on the tables for History, Religion, Biography, Science, and Literature, I’m getting punchy, thinking these aren’t books, they’re the broken pieces of western civilization I’m putting in place, one man’s deranged response to what happened yesterday in lower Manhattan against a pure blue sky, a perfect morning, absolute clarity, then out of nowhere absolute apocalyptic carnage.

Gazing out over the vista of tables piled high with books not yet arranged in rows, I see the towering stacks as buildings, or so it seems in the hour of supreme, up-after-my-bedtime mindlessness. Acutely aware of the relevance of the titles to Tuesday’s madness, I begin the first row of Literature with the Modern Library editions of Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Balzac’s Lost Illusions. I’m wondering which would cast the longest shadow in a skyline made of classics, a tower of Balzac or a tower of Tolstoy? On any other day, measured in terms of sheer quantity, it would be the many-storied work of the author of the Human Comedy soaring skyward above all others, but War and Peace is the novel I’ve been absorbed by for months, finally, thankfully, for the first time since I was 20 and unable to love it as much as Anna Karenina. What I’m especially grateful for is knowing that on the night before the catastrophe I was reading and rereading Tolstoy’s account of young Petya Rostov’s enchanted final hours. It was something to cherish forever, to have felt the euphoria all readers should know at least once in their lives, to have spent that night of all nights under Tolstoy’s spell.

Now, after a day of non-stop beyond-belief television, I can’t stop seeing terrified New Yorkers in flight from the monstrous mass of debris risen in Satanic splendor from the smoking ruin, headed full-force up Broadway, as if the mad genius terrorists had designs on midtown, even Central Park. That’s when it dawns on me that the Balzac and Tolstoy buildings should be equal in height, like the Twin Towers.     more

LOVE, HORROR, AND MORE: Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” comes to McCarter Theatre’s Matthews Stage October 15-November 3.

Lookingglass Theatre Company’s production of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a visceral adaptation that brings together inventive staging, acrobatics, and a unique in-the-round experience to  McCarter Theatre’s Matthews Stage October 15-November 3.

Mary Shelley herself (played by Cordelia Dewdney) rests at the core of the theatrical adaptation. Ahead of her time in more ways than one, the author was only 18 when she conceived of Frankenstein. Shelley experiences a lifetime of love and passion, of tragedy and loss, all of which unfolds as her characters navigate a new age of science and unintended consequences. Two hundred years later, this cautionary tale is relevant as we grapple with the ramifications of synthetic biology, artificial intelligence, and algorithms.  more

MORE THAN JUST CONCERTS: This Live Music Meditation from last season is one way Princeton University Concerts strives to bring audiences closer to music and musicians. Several events are planned for this season.

In addition to its lineup of chamber music performances, Princeton University Concerts (PUC) also offers supplemental programs, many of which are free, designed to bring audiences closer to the season’s music and musicians.

These non-concert events, all of which fall under PUC’s “Beyond the Music” programming umbrella, include Live Music Meditations, the annual Late Night Chamber Jam, an At the Movies series at the Princeton Garden Theatre and the Princeton Public Library, and half-hour Warm Ups prior to performances on the Concert Classics series. more

“EASY CHAIRS ON A HOT, SUMMER DAY”: This photograph by Carl LaVO was named the public winner of the 2019 Summer Delaware River Basin Photo Contest. The image will be featured on the commission’s website, social media sites, and annual report.

At the Delaware River Basin Commission’s (DRBC) third-quarter Business Meeting last week, Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (NJ-7) presented Joint Legislative Resolutions from the State of New Jersey for the winners of the commission’s 2019 Summer Delaware River Basin Photo Contest. Murphy, a hobbyist photographer, was the guest judge for this season, which included a public contest and one run concurrently for DRBC staff.

The photo contest judging team, in addition to the assemblywoman, included DRBC staff. They chose Carl LaVO’s photograph, titled Easy Chairs on a Hot, Summer Day, as the winner of the public contest, and chose DRBC Water Quality intern Scott Jedrusiak’s The Light Within as the winner of the staff contest. more

“BLUE-SPOTTED SALAMANDER”:  Oishee Sinharay, a student at a student at Stony Brook Elementary School in Pennington, won first place for Mercer County in Conserve Wildlife New Jersey Foundation’s 16th annual “Species on the Edge” art and essay contest. The works of county winners are on display at D&R Greenway’s Olivia Rainbow Gallery through October 31.

D&R Greenway’s Olivia Rainbow Gallery presents the works of the county winners of Conserve Wildlife New Jersey Foundation’s 16th annual “Species on the Edge” contest through October 31.

The annual juried exhibition features art and essays on New Jersey’s threatened and endangered species. Spirited versions of creatures — from Gloucester County’s bog turtle to Passaic County’s Kennedy’s emerald dragon (dragonfly) to Mercer County’s blue-spotted salamander — are on display from 9:30 a.m.  to 5 p.m. each weekday.

The students became virtual wildlife biologists through research and unique art for this statewide educational contest. Open to all fifth-graders, this display of winners launches the fall season of D&R Greenway’s Olivia Rainbow Gallery. more

“OCTAGON”: This mixed media work by Mircea Popescu is featured in the “2019 MCCC Visual Arts Faculty Exhibit” on view at The Gallery at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor through October 10. The community is invited to a reception on Wednesday, September 25 from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

The focus is on the faculty at the first art show of the season at The Gallery at Mercer County Community College (MCCC), where the college’s own visual arts faculty members have put their personal works on display.

The “2019 MCCC Visual Arts Faculty Exhibit” runs through Thursday, October 10. The community is invited to a reception on Wednesday, Sept. 25 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The MCCC Gallery is located on the second floor of the Communications Building on the college’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. more

September 11, 2019

I am English, and my Englishness is my very vision.
—D.H. Lawrence, in a letter from October 1915

By Stuart Mitchner

Earlier the same year, in another letter to another friend, Lawrence wrote, “I know that I am the English nation — that I am the European race.”

You may be thinking, how outrageous, that a mere mortal could ever presume to make such a statement. But then this is no ordinary mortal. The website for “Important Events on This Day, September 11,” begins, inevitably, with a 10-line paragraph about the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center; after an inventory of other  events, including a 1973 military coup in Chile and a 1941 speech  by Charles Lindbergh accusing “the British, the Jewish, and the Roosevelt administration of trying to draw America into World War II,” the site concludes with “D.H. Lawrence, born Sept. 11, 1885,” followed by a biographical notice almost twice as long as the entry on the American apocalypse. more

ANNIVERSARY SEASON: The Dryden Ensemble begins celebrating its 25th birthday with a benefit October 6. Visit www.drydenensemble.org for details.

The Dryden Ensemble will celebrate its 25th Anniversary this season, beginning with their Autumn Benefit on Sunday, October 6 at 5 p.m. This special event will hosted by Brian Fix at his historic home, the first of President Woodrow Wilson’s residences in Princeton.

The evening includes a theatrical entertainment, “An Eyewitness Guide to Versailles,” featuring actors Roberta Maxwell and Paul Hecht, followed by a buffet dinner and silent auction. Reservations are required. Tickets cost $150 per person and may be purchased online or by mail. more

NEW SEASON, NEW HOME: Shown here in “Paquita,” Nanako Yamamoto is among the dancers of American Repertory Ballet appearing at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center this season.

With the 2019-2020 season, American Repertory Ballet marks two major milestones in its history — the opening of its new home at the state-of-the-art New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC) and the company’s 40th anniversary.

The company will present four unique programs at NBPAC as well as performances throughout the tri-state region, including appearances in Princeton, Rahway, Trenton, Philadelphia, and New York City.

The season begins September 20-22 at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center with Paul Taylor’s Airs; a new work, Overture, by Ethan Stiefel; Beyond the Normal by Riccardo De Nigris; and Fluctuating Hemlines by Septime Webre. more

“RUTH BADER GINSBERG”: This work by Andre Veloux, made of Lego bricks, is featured in “Making Portraits,” on view at the Anne Reid ‘72 Art Gallery at Princeton Day School through October 2. The exhibit features eight contemporary artists working in portraiture. A reception will be held on Friday, September 13 from 6-7:15 p.m.

“Making Portraits,” a new exhibition featuring eight contemporary artists working in portraiture, is on view in the Anne Reid ‘72 Art Gallery at Princeton Day School through October 2. A reception open to the public will be held on Friday, September 13 from 6-7:15 p.m.

They include Mario Moore, who received an M.F.A. in painting from the Yale School of Art in 2013, and was a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University during the 2018-2019 academic year. Currently, he has an exhibition at Princeton University of portraits of blue-collar workers on the Princeton campus, which he created during his Hodder fellowship. The portraits compel dialog about social justice, perceptions and realities of individuals in our society and their representation in American painting. more

“NOSOTRO VENCEREMOS”: The works of Salina Almanzar are featured in “Ni de aquí, Ni de allá — On Being a Third Generation Dominirican,” on view through Sunday, October 13 at the Rider University Art Gallery. An opening reception is Thursday, September 12 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

The Rider University Art Gallery presents an exhibit of works by Salina Almanzar titled “Ni de aquí, Ni de allá — On Being a Third Generation Dominirican,” on view through Sunday, October 13. An opening reception and an artist’s conversation with Gallery Director Julia Marsh will be held on Thursday, September 12 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Almanzar is from Lancaster, Pa., and a graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, where she majored in studio art and English literature. She also holds a master’s degree in arts administration from Drexel University, where her thesis topic was Creative Placemaking in the Lancaster Latinx community. She researched and wrote about the ways that the Latinx community in her hometown have created spaces for cultural preservation and the obstacles or successes they may have faced up to this point. She has continued her research collecting stories and create opportunities for cultural preservation in Lancaster. more

September 4, 2019

“Tales of Genji III,” 1998, color woodcut, 119.4 x 106.7 cm. © 2019 Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, Inc./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/Tyler Graphics, Ltd., Mount Kisco, New York. For more information, visit artmuseum.princeton.edu. The exhibit is free to the public and will be up through October 20, 2019.

By Stuart Mitchner

I’m on my own, to be thoroughly me without limits and anything is possible…
—Helen Frankenthaler (1928-2011)

Something resembling Helen Frankenthaler’s credo is on my mind every time I begin a column. Now it’s Labor Day weekend, art and work, the charisma of old books, William Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey,” a trip to Hay-on-Wye, and the Frankenthaler exhibition, which will be at the Princeton University Art Museum  through October 20.

The exhibit takes its theme from literary critic William Empson’s landmark study, Seven Types of Ambiguity (1930), a title Frankenthaler borrowed for the large painting on view near the entrance to the gallery. According to curators Mitra Abbaspour and Calvin Brown, the show illustrates “the central principle of Empson’s text: that close reading, like close looking, can yield deep relationships with an abstract composition.”

Given the no-limits, anything-is-possible nature of this column, my idea of “close looking” is expressed in the second stanza of Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey,” where, “with an eye made quiet by the power/Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,/We see into the life of things.” more