August 26, 2020

BRINGING THE STATE UP TO DATE: A rendering of State Theatre New Jersey, which is the focus of a major fundraising project to renovate the historic performing arts center in New Brunswick.

Middlesex County, in partnership with the nonprofit State Theatre New Jersey, is investing towards the modernization of the New Brunswick historic landmark.

As part of a larger capital fundraising effort, the Next Stage Campaign, initiated by State Theatre New Jersey, has set a target goal to generate $26,500,000 for renovations that will dramatically improve accessibility, safety, and operation of the nearly 100-year-old facility, owned by Middlesex County and operated by State Theatre New Jersey under a long-term agreement.

“Middlesex County has a long history of investing in the arts – it is a cornerstone of this community. The arts bring us all together, transcends color and economic background, and is a key facet of our identity,” said Ronald Rios, freeholder director of the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders. “State Theatre New Jersey showcases world-class artists from around the world, attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors each year – it is a significant economic driver for our county. This investment is part of a long-term strategic plan to improve the quality of life for our residents both now and into the future.” more

HEALTHCARE ANGELS: This painting by Joe LaMattina is featured in “Art and Healing,” a juried exhibition on view on the West Windsor Arts Council’s website August 31 through October 23. A virtual reception is September 11 from 7:15 to 9 p.m.

For its new virtual juried exhibit, the West Windsor Arts Council invited artists to explore the theme of “Art and Healing,” not only as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact it has had on our lives, but also to reflect on past life experiences or feelings relating to healing from any condition or challenge. 

As we slowly emerge from the quarantines of the past few months, WWAC sought to create an exhibition that looks at art as a healing tool, reflecting the realities, feelings, or experiences during this surreal time, or from other past events, either personal or public.

“Art and Healing”  can be viewed at westwindsorarts.org from August 31 through October 30. A free virtual reception, featuring discussions with the juror and artists, is Friday, September 11 from 7:15-9 p.m.  Visit the website to register. more

ART RE-CREATION CHALLENGE: The work submitted by Kristina Giasi, above, re-creates William Merritt Chase’s “Landscape: Shinnecock, Long Island, 1896,” shown below. The Princeton University Art Museum is now hosting a challenge to re-create works from the museum’s collections, or from another museum, from home using anything on hand. The deadline for entries is August 30.

The Princeton University Art Museum is now hosting a Museum Challenge — entries are open through this Sunday, August 30. 

Here’s how it works: Choose any artwork, from the Princeton University Art Museum’s collections, or from another museum, and re-create it at home using anything on hand, the more imaginative the better. Think dogs with books, a ketchup bottle standing in for wine, a bathrobe in place of a cape.

Then simply snap a photo and submit your entry, through the Museum’s website (artmuseum.princeton.edu/nss). Categories include  Best Use of Food, Best Use of a Pet, Best Landscape, Best Still Life, Best Portrait, 13-and-under Best in Show, and others. 

The deadline is Sunday, August 30. Winners will be announced during the Museum’s Nassau Street Sampler Virtual Festival on Thursday, September 3. The Fest will include online lotería, trivia, art-making, chef videos, student performances, and a virtual dance party.

August 19, 2020

By Stuart Mitchner

Nabokov must be writing this script. Who else but the creator of Humbert Humbert, Dolores Haze, and Jonathan Shade could conceive of a president named Trump appointing a postmaster general named DeJoy to sabotage the U.S. postal system ahead of the 2020 election? The USPS subplot of my homemade conspiracy theory can be traced to Thomas Pynchon’s short novel, The Crying of Lot 49 (CL49). The Cornell connection, formed when Pynchon was a student taking one of Vladimir Nabokov’s courses (presumably “Masters of European Fiction”), is signaled in the opening paragraph’s reference to “a sunrise over the library slope of Cornell University.”

A Postmarked Bookmark

When I’m in need of something to mark my place in a book, I usually choose from a stash of photos, actual bookmarks, and old postcards like the one of Grand Central Terminal I’ve been using for CL49. Addressed to a Mrs. N. Adams in Franklin, Indiana, the card is postmarked 1 a.m. Nov. 22, 1922, and bears a canceled dollar-green U.S. Postage 1¢ stamp of George Washington (profile facing left). According to the Mystic Stamp Company, the earliest known use for this series was December 17, 1922. Readers familiar with Pynchon’s work will recognize one of his signature tropes in the note stating that due to “poor centering and other minor defects, a number of coil stamp sheets had been set aside as ‘waste’ to be destroyed.”

In CL49, the acronym WASTE (We Await Silent Tristero’s Empire) refers to an underground postal service created by fusing the poetry of paranoia with the thermodynamics of entropy; the system’s emblem, a muted post horn, can be seen on the cover of the first edition of The Crying of Lot 49 (shown here). Published in 1966, the novel presages not only the hauling away of post office drop boxes and sorting machines in August 2020, but the president’s obsession with voters in a specific constituency, namely the “suburban housewives” who are the subjects of an experiment on the effects of LSD-25 being conducted by   psychotherapist Dr. Hilarius. Refusing to take part in the experiment after being told “We want you,” CL49’s fantasy-prone protagonist Oedipa Maas hallucinates “the well-known portrait of Uncle that appears in all our post offices, his eyes gleaming unhealthily, his sunken yellow cheeks most violently rouged, his finger pointing between her eyes. I want you.”  more

“EAGLETS”: Artist Doris Ettlinger, who created this painting, will be one of the participants as the Garden State Watercolor Society (GSWS) and D&R Greenway Land Trust celebrate GSWS’ juror and top award winners from “Out of the Wild,” their 50th Anniversary Juried Exhibition. The virtual happy hour is Wednesday, August 26 from 5 to 6 p.m.

On Wednesday, August 26 from 5 to 6 p.m., the public is invited to pour their favorite beverage and join others who appreciate the varied and vital connections between nature and art as the Garden State Watercolor Society (GSWS) and D&R Greenway Land Trust celebrate GSWS’ juror and top award winners from “Out of the Wild,” their 50th Anniversary virtual juried exhibition. Via Zoom, viewers will discover which wild settings and what interactions with wild creatures inspired the chosen winners of the exhibit’s top prizes. The first presentation of the land trust’s new D&R Greenway James Fiorentino Nature Award will also take place that evening.

Register for this free Zoom event at rsvp@drgreenway.org.

GSWS President Tess Fields will discuss the role of art in 21st-century conservation, and address art in the time of COVID. D&R Greenway CEO and President Linda Mead will moderate the nature-focused discussions. She will speak about how the land trust’s management of their preserves uses conservation data to ensure protection of wild creatures.  more

NO NUTCRACKER: American Repertory Ballet has decided to cancel live performances of “Nutcracker” this coming holiday season, due to health concerns about the pandemic. A virtual series of excerpts will be available online. (Photo by Eduardo Patino)

Due to many unknowns about the global pandemic, American Repertory Ballet’s Nutcracker has been canceled for the holiday season. But a virtual series of excerpts will be available for online viewing.

“It was a difficult decision, but our top priority remains the health and safety of our staff, artists, and audiences,” said Executive Director Julie Diana Hench. “Since 1964, American Repertory Ballet’s Nutcracker has been a celebration of community and youthful imagination. We look forward to the day when we can all be together again in-person to celebrate the magic of this professional and joyous holiday tradition.” more

August 12, 2020

By Stuart Mitchner

When Tropical Storm Isaias knocked out our power last Tuesday morning, I already had Thomas De Quincey’s Confessions of an English Opium Eater and Herman Melville’s Journal of a Visit to London and the Continent close at hand, along with flashlights, battery-operated lanterns, and a portable CD player. Besides the fact that both writers have sailed similarly stormy seas of thought, I knew we’d be printing on August 12, three days before De Quincey’s August 15th birthday and two weeks after the 201st birthday of Herman Melville, who discovered the Opium Eater on his way to writing Moby-Dick.

Painting in the Dark

When Confessions first appeared in the September 1821 issue of London Magazine, elegantly addressed to the “Courteous Reader,” Melville was 2 years old, a reader in the making who would bond with the book in London shortly before Christmas 1849. A hop, skip, and a virtual jump later, it’s August 2020 and De Quincey’s lighting this grateful reader’s way through the after-midnight darkness of a power outage. Taking occasional breaks from the book, I become an impromptu cinematographer, moving the flashlight beam around the living room, poking holes in the darkness and zooming in on details: the densely shadowed corner of a print from Goya’s Disasters of War; a fragment of winding road on a large Art Nouveau vase; flowered fireplace tiles; the bronze glimmer of the andirons; and above the mantle an oil painting of a night scene by an unknown artist, a firelit shoreline, a boat being unloaded by spectral figures, the scene becoming gloomier, more sinister as the flashlight sweeps over it.

Picking up where I left off in the book, it’s as if De Quincey’s been reading my mind, setting the scene, asking if “the reader is aware” that children have the power of painting phantoms “upon the darkness,” a power that in some is “simply a mechanical affection of the eye” while “others have a voluntary or semi-voluntary power to dismiss or to summon them” (my italics because we were told the power would be restored by now, c’mon PSE&G, give us back our power, power, power!), and after a child informs De Quincey that when he tells the phantoms to go, they go, but that sometimes they come when he doesn’t want them to come, the Opium Eater assures him that he has “as unlimited a command over apparitions as a Roman centurion over his soldiers.” Picturing the confused and by now perhaps terrified child, I’m reminded this is the same man who was found by one of his daughters one evening sitting at his desk with his hair on fire. more

CELEBRATING CULTURE: Christina and Andrés of 123 Andrés are among the performers at the upcoming online festival that gives an in-depth look at the arts in New Brunswick. (Photo by David Rugeles)

On Saturday, August 15 from 3-7 p.m. the inaugural, virtual New Brunswick HEART Festival will be presented by State Theatre New Jersey, New Brunswick Cultural Center, New Brunswick Performing Arts Center (NBPAC), and Above Art Studios. Hosted by New Jersey Radio Hall of Famer Bert Baron and co-founder of CPR Live, Sharon Gordon, the event was created to celebrate the vibrant arts and history that New Brunswick and the County of Middlesex has to offer.

To watch, go to tinyurl.com/NBHEARTFestival.

The online festivities will include music, dance, and spoken word performances; a behind-the-scenes look inside the local theater and visual arts scene; a close-up of Middlesex County’s history; interviews with artists and arts and community leaders; a craft-making session; yoga; and more.

“We are so proud and honored to bring together so many amazing arts and community partners for the first ever New Brunswick HEART festival,” said festival organizers Tracey O’Reggio-Clark from New Brunswick Cultural Center and the Arts Institute of Middlesex County; Kelly Blithe from State Theatre New Jersey; and Dontae Muse from Above Art Studios. “As many arts institutions are struggling during this global pandemic, it is more important than ever to showcase the arts and the profound impact that they have on our lives and our community.” more

BASH FOR DASH: A “Sarah Dash Birthday Bash” will be live-streamed Sunday, August 16 by the Levitt AMP Trenton Music Series.

On August 16 at 8 p.m., the vocalist known as Trenton’s “music ambassador” will give a concert online to celebrate her birthday. Sarah Dash, a Trenton native, was one-third of the group LaBelle, known for the hit single “Lady Marmalade.” In addition to her musical career, she is a motivational speaker, educator, and humanitarian.

As a solo artist, the Grammy Hall of Fame inductee once topped the international dance charts with the song “Sinner Man” and has collaborated with such artists as Nile Rodgers, Sylvester, and The Rolling Stones (appearing on the Stones’ 1989 album Steel Wheels). Dash was also the only female member of Keith Richards’ super group, The X-Pensive Winos. more

BRUSH UP ON YOUR TRIVIA: Drag comedian Pissi Myles is the host for a special Online Trivia Night, sponsored by State Theatre New Jersey, to be held on Wednesday, August 19 at 7 p.m. via Zoom. Proceeds raised will support State Theatre’s Community Engagement programs.

On Wednesday, August 19 at 7 p.m., State Theatre New Jersey is hosting 2000s Online Trivia Night via Zoom, with hostess Pissi Myles. Proceeds raised will support State Theatre’s Community Engagement programs. A minimum donation of $5 allows patrons to participate in the trivia challenge.

Hosted by drag comedian Myles, the trivia challenge covers the music, movies, musicals, and pop culture of the early 2000s. The trivia will be composed of 60 multiple-choice questions. The first-place winner gets a $150 State Theatre gift certificate and the second-place winner gets a State Theatre swag bag. more


“THIS TOO SHALL PASS”: This painting by Sarah Bernotas is featured in an exhibition of artwork by Hopewell Valley Arts Council members. “This Too Shall Pass” is on view at the Hopewell Valley Bistro & Inn, 15 East Broad Street, through October 29.

The Hopewell Valley Arts Council now presents “This Too Shall Pass,” its annual members show featuring 40+ pieces created during the health crisis. “This Too Shall Pass” highlights local artists’ dive into creativity and reflection during these difficult times.

The artwork will be on display through October 29 at the Hopewell Valley Bistro & Inn at 15 East Broad Street, Hopewell. Social distancing and state-mandated safety practices will be in place. For hours and dining inquiries go to hopewellbistro.com.

For more information about the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, visit hvartscouncil.org

ARTSBRIDGE OUTDOOR ART SALE: The annual sale returns on Sunday, August 30 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Prallsville Mills, 33 Risler Street, in Stockton. The event will be held rain or shine. (Photo by Gary David Fournier)

In this year of cancelations, the annual Artsbridge Outdoor Art Sale returns! Art collectors and art lovers are invited Sunday, August 30, to the Prallsville Mills at 33 Risler Street in Stockton from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., rain or shine. If it rains, the exhibit will be held inside the mill. There is no entry fee. more

This painting by Alayne Sahar is featured in the Garden State Watercolor Society’s 50th Anniversary Juried Exhibition, “Out of the Wild,” which can be viewed online through September 30. The exhibit, in partnership with D&R Greenway Land Trust, is being held in conjunction with a virtual artists’ talk and a family-friendly scavenger hunt. For more information, visit www.gswcs.com or www.drgreenway.org.

August 5, 2020

By Stuart Mitchner

The screen test was shot over the shoulder of a bewigged man in period costume, presumably the title character in Danton, a film of the French Revolution that was never made. The young actress clearly has had experience, her voice and diction are excellent, she projects a spirited youthful appeal (“I want to see the king. I want to tell him how things really are”), but as soon she becomes emotional (“my mother is sick, we don’t have enough to eat”), you’re rolling your eyes, and when the man responds with loud laughter at the idea that the king would care, you think at first he might be mocking her performance. Danton cares enough to give her money for bread, a gesture that surprises and touches her and leaves her struggling for words, she’s choked up, virtually speechless, radiant with gratitude (“Oh you — you’re — wonderful!”) as she bolts from the room.

Put yourself in the place of whoever’s reviewing the test and you’ve gone from feeling judgmental (that bit about the sick mother) to wanting more of her, you’re sorry she left, you’re already missing her. Forget the low grade you’d give her reading of the hackneyed dialogue, forget the French Revolution, forget the test: she’s a delight, the camera loves her (as the saying goes), she matters, she’s there, and in spite of the mob cap and period dress, spirit and energy like hers don’t date, she’s “modern,” the surge of life that briefly filled that space some 80 years ago transcending decades of films, fads, and fashion, something fine and true shining through.  more

SIBLING ARTISTS: Pianist Isata Kanneh-Mason, above, is among the artists whose music will be streamed by Princeton University Concerts, which has canceled fall season live events. Her brother, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, will perform with her. (Photo by Robin Clewley) 

In accordance with Princeton University’s recently announced policies regarding campus operations in the fall term, Princeton University Concerts (PUC) has canceled all previously planned concerts and events through December 2020.

This includes concerts with the Takács Quartet with pianist Jeremy Denk (October 15); violinist Alina Ibragimova and pianist Cédric Tiberghien (November 11); Richardson Chamber Players (November 22); and the Tetzlaff Quartet (December 3); Orli Shaham’s Bach Yard family program (October 24); and First Monday of the Month Listening Parties with host Matt Abramovitz on October 5 and December 7.

No tickets had been released for these events, and tickets for the remainder of PUC’s 2020-2021 season will continue to be withheld until a determination can be made about policies for events on campus in the spring. Every effort will be made to reschedule as many of these canceled events as possible to future seasons.  more

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) has announced the appointment of Adam Welch as the organization’s executive director, effective September 1.

“As a seasoned professional with an extensive background in arts management and fundraising, we look forward to having Adam Welch bring his creative vision, wealth of experience, and artistic excellence to the Arts Council of Princeton,” says Sarah Collum Hatfield, board president of the ACP.

Welch joins the ACP from Greenwich House Pottery in New York City, where he has worked for 17 years, serving as its director since 2010. At Greenwich House Pottery, he set the institutional vision for the country’s leading ceramic art center; refocused its mission; turned its six-figure deficit into a surplus; developed the exhibition, education, and residency programs; documented, researched, and helped organize its historical record; implemented capital campaigns; and developed its gallery and artistic publications. Welch raised necessary scholarship and capital funds and oversaw management, fundraising, budget, and public relations in close collaboration with its faculty and staff.
 more

PAPER CRANE PROJECT: On view in the Taplin Gallery at the Arts Council of Princeton through August 29, this installation of 10,000+ colorful paper cranes contributed by the community is a celebration of love, eternal strength, and the resiliency of the human spirit.

The Princeton Paper Crane Project, on view at the Arts Council of Princeton through August 29, is a celebration of love, eternal strength, and resiliency of the human spirit.

The project was developed in the spring of 2020, when a symbol of hope was needed most.

Led by Miya Table and Home, the Princeton Paper Crane Project is an exercise of hope and healing. In Japanese culture, the crane is a symbol of longevity and peace. Senbazuru (a thousand cranes) is a well-known tradition in Japan that promises to grant a wish to anyone who folds 1,000 cranes.  more

“MURALS ON FRONT STREET”: The Trenton Downtown Association (TDA) has partnered with Trenton artist Leon Rainbow for the fourth consecutive year to bring live mural painting to Front and Broad streets in downtown Trenton. The live painting began on July 30 and will continue with new murals created by a dozen local artists through September 20. 

Trenton Downtown Association (TDA) has announced that it received a $25K grant from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts (NJSCA) to support continued community-based arts programming, including the popular “Murals on Front Street” project.

This much-needed financial boost has made it possible for TDA to partner with Trenton artist Leon “Rain” Rainbow for the fourth consecutive year in bringing live mural painting to Front and Broad Streets in downtown Trenton. Murals on Front Street gives different artists each week a chance to transform boarded-up panels of an old parking garage into striking, meaningful works of art. The live painting began on July 30 and will continue with new murals created by a dozen local artists through September 20. 

“We are overwhelmed by the support we have received over the years from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts,” said Meaghan Singletary, development and project manager for TDA. “This year we are especially grateful to have the opportunity to redirect funds originally slated for the Levitt AMP Trenton Music Series concerts in a way that positively impacts our community and shines a light on Trenton when the city needs it most.”  more

July 29, 2020

By Stuart Mitchner

In Money Heist, feelings, fraternity and love are as important as the plots. A perfect heist, rational and cool, becomes something else when spiced up with Latin emotions.

—Álex Pina

In this season of death and discontent, why do I find myself compulsively whistling, humming, thinking, and feeling the old anti-fascist protest anthem, “Bella Ciao”? Even the cardinals in our backyard are getting into the act; instead of sweet sweet sweet, I’m hearing ciao ciao ciao! The pure and piercing clarity of the sound conveys another message, not goodbye beautiful, but hello hello hello.

The source of my “Bella Ciao” euphoria is the Netflix sensation Money Heist [Casa del Papel], whose recently released fourth season drew 65 million viewers around the world. By early 2018, when Álex Pina’s creation was already the most-watched non-English language series in Netflix history, and one of the most watched overall, the singing of “Bella Ciao” at key moments in the action inspired an international onslaught of cover versions.

“A Cultural Juggernaut”

The most informative account of Money Heist I’ve been able to find is in the April 2, 2020 Guardian (“It’s pure rock’n’roll”), where after hailing “a world-changing, cultural juggernaut of a TV show,” Ellen Jones writes, “The first season of the full-throttle thriller saw its gang – all code-named after major cities and memorably clad in revolutionary-red overalls and Salvador Dalí masks – break into the Royal Mint of Spain taking 67 people hostage and literally printing money: 2.4 billion euros, to be exact.”    

Referring to the series’ “anti-system” philosophy, invoked whenever gang members sing “Bella Ciao,” Jones quotes Álex Pina: “First and foremost, the series is meant to entertain, but an idea runs underneath. Skepticism towards governments, central banks, the system.” After pointing out the series’ roots in Don Quixote (“To rise up against the system is reckless and idealistic”), Pina claims the latest season has the power to “infuse some oxygen into this disturbing climate,” comparing it to “a brutal journey to the limit” while promising that “the audience will not think of Covid-19 while watching it.” more

By Nancy Plum

Although unable to appear live in Princeton this summer as part of Princeton University Summer Chamber Concerts, Manhattan Chamber Players did not want to miss out on Beethoven’s 250th anniversary, and made the most of technology by presenting an online performance last Wednesday night in a continuation of  the Chamber Concerts “Chamber Music Wednesdays” series. 

A collective of 22 New York-based musicians, Manhattan Chamber Players performs in a variety of flexible combinations — in Wednesday night’s performance, as a string trio. A true family string ensemble, violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt; her husband, cellist Brook Speltz; and his brother, violinist Brendan Speltz, presented Ludwig van Beethoven’s String Trio in G Major, Opus 9, No. 1, recorded during the current pandemic in a private home in Philadelphia. In an online performance introduced by the ensemble’s Artistic Director Luke Fleming, van de Stadt and the Speltz brothers presented a clean and unified performance of this work, showing why Beethoven’s string trios can easily stand up against his more substantial and more well-known string quartets.

Beethoven arrived in Vienna in 1792 to study with Franz Josef Haydn, quickly embracing the courtly Viennese chamber music style of Haydn and wunderkind Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. String Quartet in G Major was the first of three string trios comprising Beethoven’s Opus 9, composed between 1797 and 1798. String Trio No. 1 showed the clear influence of Mozart’s 1788 Divertimento in E-flat Major, a sizeable work considered the first piece in the string trio genre by any composer, but also demonstrated Beethoven’s forward-thinking Romantic musical ideas.   more

DON’T STOP THE MUSIC: The Philadelphia Orchestra, led here by music director Yannick Nezet-Seguin, is among those offering virtual performances as the pandemic continues. (Photo by Jessica Griffin)

By Anne Levin

Fans of classical music are known to build their summer vacations around festivals that feature their favorite conductors and performances. None of that is happening this summer, thanks to the pandemic. But just about every musical organization is offering virtual programming, mostly of past performances that were particularly popular or noteworthy.

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra is sharing recordings of performed works on its “Play it Forward” page (princetonsymphony.org/home-pso/music-play-it-forward) through August. Each work is replaced every other Monday to give listeners ample time to hear the complete performance. Music director Rossen Milanov conducts such concerts as Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, recorded on February 3, 2019 at Richardson Auditorium. Other offerings can be found at princetonsymphony.org.

The Philadelphia Orchestra is currently streaming past concerts including Emanuel Ax and Brahms from November 2018, conducted by music director Yannick Nezet-Sequin; Beethoven, Schumann, and Weber from April 2019 conducted by Nezet-Seguin with solo pianist Jonathan Biss; and Mahler’s Symphony No. 9, also led by Nezet-Seguin, from May 2019.  more

LOTS OF STRINGS: The Tesla Quartet is the first in the Lot of Strings Music Festival, performing August 13 at the Morris Museum.

On four successive Thursdays, four string quartets will play in the Lot of Strings Music Festival from August 13 to September 3 atop the Morris Museum’s elevated parking lot, providing a view of the Morris County hills. All performances are at 7:30 pm.

The Tesla, JACK, Attacca and Catalyst quartets are the four ensembles. Audience members will be in socially distant 8’x8’ blocks. Bring your own chair and refreshments. more

“IT TAKES TWO”: This painting by Cynthia Smith is featured in the Garden State Watercolor Society’s 50th Anniversary Juried Exhibition, “Out of the Wild,” which can be viewed online August 4 through September 30. The exhibit, in partnership with D&R Greenway Land Trust, will be held in conjunction with a virtual artists’ talk and family-friendly scavenger hunt.

The Garden State Watercolor Society (GSWS) is partnering with D&R Greenway Land Trust to mount a wildlife-focused 50th Anniversary Juried Exhibition online August 4 through September 30. A virtual Awards Ceremony will include a special new award on occasion of GSWS’ 50th Anniversary, the D&R Greenway James Fiorentino Nature Art Award. Opportunities to experience the exhibit include a virtual gallery, a virtual talk with featured artists, and a family-friendly scavenger hunt.

Garden State Watercolor’s exhibit “Out of the Wild” portrays human relationships with the wild landscape, flora, and fauna with creative imagination. Artists illustrate natural beauty, as well as the disconnect felt when civilization and nature are out of balance. Whether the trauma of suburban or industrial encroachment or the restorative bliss of land reclaimed to wildflower meadows, this deeply contemplative exhibit will showcase what “Out of the Wild” signifies to each of us.

This exhibit was juried by Steve Zazenski, AWS, who is known for his colorful landscapes depicting coastal New England, Europe, and the Caribbean. Art is available for sale online, with part of each purchase a donation to support D&R Greenway’s charitable mission of preserving and caring for land, and inspiring a conservation ethic. more

“LOTUS GARDEN”: Artist Al Gunther was awarded Best of Show, the Sally Bush Memorial Award, for his glass mosaic piece at the Center for Contemporary Art 2020 Members’ Non-Juried Exhibition and Sale, now available to view online through August 29 at cabedminster.org.

The Center for Contemporary Art (The Center) in Bedminster has announced  its annual Members’ Non-Juried Exhibition and Sale, a yearly opportunity for members to showcase their artwork in any and all media. The variety and range of entries is a testament to the diversity and creativity of The Center’s community of artists.

This year, there are 136 works of art by participating members in painting, pastel, charcoal, ink, graphite, photography, mixed media, glass and ceramics. Because The Center is temporarily closed, the entire exhibition is available to view online at ccabedminster.org through August 29.  All artwork in the exhibition is available for purchase and, in honor of The Center’s 50th anniversary, all artists are donating 50 percent of sales to The Center.  more

July 22, 2020

By Stuart Mitchner

I have seldom, very seldom, crossed this borderland between loneliness and fellowship. I have even been settled there longer than in loneliness itself. What a fine bustling place was Robinson Crusoe’s island in comparison!

—Franz Kafka, October 29, 1921

My bedside copy of Kafka’s Diaries 1914-1923 opened to that passage as I was adjusting to the idea of baseball being played before a virtual crowd in an empty stadium. I kept thinking of the recent New York Times photograph of a stylishly masked player batting in front of a “crowd” of cardboard cutouts at Citi Field. Why was that jumbled arrangement of forms and faces so hauntingly familiar? Why was I smiling at the thought of something so creepy, so unreal, so — Kafkaesque?

The answer came by way of the reference to “loneliness and fellowship” in the passage just quoted. Given all the precautionary no-nos the pandemic has inflicted on baseball — no spitting, no high-fives, no hugs, no fist bumps, no intimate catcher-pitcher sessions on the mound, no round-the-horn-and-back-to-the-pitcher routine after an out — who’d have thought that the no-fans challenge would lead to the invention of  ballpark variations on the cover design of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band?

Never mind the financial upside already being explored by the owners, like having fans pay to reserve a seat in the stands for cutouts of their choosing. Never mind the distraction potential, like putting an image of the opposing pitcher’s estranged wife in a key position behind home plate. What’s making me smile is the back story wherein Jann Haworth and Peter Blake, the co-creators of the Sgt. Pepper cover, left the choice of cutouts to the Beatles. Told to think of themselves posing for a photograph with a crowd of fans behind them — “the fans could be anybody, dead or alive, real or fictitious” — each Beatle was asked to make a list.  more