July 28, 2021

“THE CANAL IN LAMBERTVILLE”: This painting by Carol Sanzalone is featured in “Creating Joy,” her dual exhibit with Alla Podolsky, on view at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville August 5 through September 5. 

Artists’ Gallery, 18 Bridge Street, Lambertville, presents “Creating Joy,” featuring member artists, Alla Podolsky and Carol Sanzalone, August 5 through September 5. A Meet the Artists event will be held on Saturday, August 7, from 2 to 5 p.m.

The beauty of people and places inspires the work of Podolsky and  Sanzalone. 

Podolsky, a native of Kiev, Ukraine, chooses to paint people and their environments in a wide range of settings. Her oil paintings feature a variety of situations and individuals, capturing their thoughts and moods. She describes herself as a “human painter,” exploring the interactions between reality and imagination, constructing creative visual narratives. more

“INDIAN SUMMER” This watercolor by Leslie Hatch of East Windsor was awarded Best in Show — Non-Professional in the 2021 Mercer County Senior Art Show, which is being held online at mercercounty.org through August 6.

A professional juror has selected the winners from more than 80 entries in this year’s Mercer County Senior Art Show, which is being held online through August 6. The exhibition can be viewed on the Mercer County website at www.mercercounty.org.

“We have so many older adults who are tapping into their creativity to create new works of art,” said Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes. “I commend everyone who entered their work in the County show and thank them for sharing their artistic talent with us.”

Each year, the Mercer County Division of Culture and Heritage partners with the Mercer County Office on Aging to produce the Mercer County Senior Art Show. First-place winners from the County show advance to the New Jersey Senior Citizen Art Show held in the fall. more

“BRING ON THE JOY”: A team of Arts Council of Princeton artists transformed a courtyard wall at the Princeton Shopping Center with the first in a series of three murals. The community is invited to a Mural Dedication Concert on Thursday, July 29 (rescheduled from July 9) at 6 p.m. (Photo courtesy of Princeton Shopping Center)

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) and Princeton Shopping Center invite the community to a Mural Dedication Concert on Thursday, July 29 (rescheduled from July 9) at 6 p.m. in celebration of the recently completed artwork in the Princeton Shopping Center courtyard. Leadership from the Arts Council of Princeton and Princeton Shopping Center owner, EDENS, are expected to speak, in addition to Princeton Mayor Mark Freda.

The outdoor mural celebration kicks off with We May Be Right, a Billy Joel tribute band, along with family-friendly activities in the shopping center courtyard hosted by Princeton Public Library. For more information, visit princetonshoppingcenter.com.

“COLOR WHEEL”: The Gourgaud Gallery at Town Hall in Cranbury will feature works by Tatiana Sougakova. The exhibit will be open weekdays from August 2 through August 27.

The newly reopened Gourgaud Gallery at Town Hall, 23-A North Main Street, Cranbury will host an exhibit entitled “Color Wheel” by Tatiana Sougakova. It will be on view Monday, August 2 through Friday, August 27. Hours are 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., weekdays.

“Color Wheel” is a collection of large abstract wall scrolls on sewn canvas each depicting a nature force or a theme.  more

July 21, 2021

IMPALED AND UPTURNED: The set for the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s summer productions took a brutal beating from a storm on July 6. But “The Comedy of Errors” and “Snug” are back on track.

By Anne Levin

As if coming back from COVID-19 wasn’t enough, the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey had a new hurdle to overcome this month when a ferocious storm ripped up the set of its Outdoor Stage — just days before the scheduled openings of Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors and Snug, artistic director Bonnie Monte’s homage to A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

But Monte and her staff were not about to let this latest assault keep the company off the Outdoor Stage, which is in Morristown. After scrambling to get things back on track, the opening was delayed by only one week. The shows are scheduled through August 1.

Monte spoke about the storm, the recovery, surviving the pandemic, and more, in a telephone conversation a day after the deluge. The company had been scheduled to rehearse for the upcoming performances, but the ravaged set – some of it was actually impaled – made that impossible.

“We are fighting the clock to get everything not just rebuilt, but rehearsed,” she said. “The weather during the entire 10-day period when we are typically scheduled to set up, rehearse, and tech, was rain, rain, and more rain. Then, when the big storm hit, we weren’t ready. So we have had no rehearsal yet. These are very complicated shows, so we are getting really nervous. But the show must go on, as they say, and we will open. My company is extraordinary.” more

By Stuart Mitchner

Ernest Hemingway began The Sun Also Rises (1926) on his 26th birthday, July 21, 1925. “Everybody my age had written a novel,” he told the Paris Review’s George Plimpton, “and I was still having a difficult time writing a paragraph.” He finished the first draft exactly six weeks later in Paris.

I came back to Hemingway’s “Lost Generation” novel by way of John McPhee’s April 19, 2021 piece in the New Yorker (“Tabula Rasa: Volume Two”). Referring to a passage in which the protagonist Jake Barnes and his pal Bill Gorton are walking “across a meadow and through rising woods and across high open fields and down to a stream,” McPhee, who turned 90 on March 8, observes how “each successive sentence, in stairstep form, contains something of its predecessor and something new — repeating, advancing, repeating, advancing, like fracture zones on the bed of the ocean. It is not unaffective. It is lyrical.” Years later when he was teaching his Princeton course in creative non-fiction, McPhee assigned the passage to writing students, “asking if they could see a way to shorten it without damaging the repetition.”

Don’t Touch a Word

Reading the opening chapters of The Sun Also Rises for the first time in decades, I was surprised to find evidence of the “elephantine facetiousness” Scott Fitzgerald pointed out in the ten-page-long handwritten letter he sent to Hemingway in the spring of 1926. I was 16 when I first read the book, although “read” isn’t the word for it. I drank it down like an underage drinker on a binge.

Three years later I opened A Farewell to Arms (1929) to one of the most celebrated examples of Hemingway’s “repeating, advancing, repeating, advancing” don’t- touch-a-word-of-it prose topography:  more

FREE AND FAMILY-FRIENDLY: The 11th annual Hub City Sounds brings art, music, food and more to New Brunswick starting August 7.

New Brunswick Cultural Center/Arts New Brunswick presents the 11th annual Hub City Sounds series, taking place this summer to fall from August 7 through October 31. The free series combines performing, visual, and culinary arts and has events for all ages and tastes. This year’s festival is both virtual and in-person.

Hub City Sounds events include the Indo American Festival on August 7, the New Brunswick HEART Festival on August 14, the Sixth Annual Carifest on August 21, the 10th Annual Central Jersey Jazz Festival on September 11, Arts New Brunswick Festival and MCFOODS Food Drive on September 18, and the Corazon Latino/Dia De Muertos/Halloween Celebration on October 31.  more

LESSONS FROM THE BEST: French horn player Elizabeth “E.J.” Ferrara took lessons from Philadelphia Orchestra member Jennifer Montone at a recent summer music festival.

French horn player Elizabeth “E.J.” Ferrara, 17, of Princeton, was among the students at the Philadelphia International Music Festival (PIMF), which resumed its in-person summer model while retaining its popular online option.

Elizabeth studied with her idol Jennifer Montone, who plays French horn with the Philadelphia Orchestra, during the session June 19-July 2, on the campus of Valley Forge Military Academy in Wayne, Pa. The second session runs through July 30. Montone was among 25 members of The Philadelphia Orchestra to work with students in individual and group lessons and master classes, and inspire them in faculty recitals.

“PIMF was a breath of fresh air for me, and I loved every second of it,” said E.J. “This was my first opportunity in over a year to share my love of music with others. My favorite part was that everyone was as in love with music as I was. My roommate and I even woke up to a different orchestral piece every morning as our alarm.” more

“CARNEGIE HALL”: This painting by award-winning artist Robert Beck is featured in “It’s Personal: The Art of Robert Beck,” on view July 30 through January 2 at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa.

The Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., presents “It’s Personal: The Art of Robert Beck,” opening July 30. The exhibition focuses on Robert Beck’s place in the storied world of the New Hope-Lambertville arts community.

Beck has played an important role in advancing and expanding the region’s traditions of Impressionism and Urban Realism, with distinctive oil paintings of the people, places, and occupations of our time. He is well known for documentary paintings, as he refers to his paintings done on site in one go. Whether single works or multi-image “visual essays,” these distinct paintings record his world much like the Pennsylvania Impressionists recorded theirs in their time. Unlike those images, Beck describes a world that contemporary audiences recognize as their own.

Viewers respond to his keen perspective on the storefronts, street corners, bars, restaurants, carnivals, basketball games, funeral homes, and parades. While New York, Bucks County, and the villages along the upper coast of Maine present subjects and contrast for his examinations, the exhibit includes work from series he created in the American West, Europe, and Africa.

“For more than 30 years, Beck has been an integral part of the Bucks County art community as both a leader and an iconoclast,” says Curator David Leopold, who organized the exhibition. “A generation has come to expect Beck at his easel wherever they are in the community. For the first time we have gathered paintings for all parts of his career and will present them in an installation that will also include short videos of different aspects of his work, along with audio of Beck recounting remarkable stories.” more

Paintings by Adriana Groza are featured at Small World Coffee, 14 Witherspoon Street, through August 3. The show includes original artworks from several series including Abstracts, Beach, Floral, and Underwater Worlds, all informed in one way or another by her interpretation and perception of time.

West Windsor Arts Council presents “Across the Board: Garden State Watercolor Society,” an in-person and online exhibition of original fine art for sale, on view through August 27. The exhibit spaces are at West Windsor Arts, 952 Alexander Road, Princeton Junction, with gallery hours by appointment, and at the new Whole World Arts in the MarketFair shopping center on Route 1. The current hours of operation for this new location are Wednesday through Friday, 3-6 p.m. and Saturday 1-4 p.m. more

July 14, 2021

By Stuart Mitchner

It all comes down to the map shown on this page. As soon as I saw it, I was hooked. I’d say it was love at first sight, no, that’s too easy, but what else can you call it when your first view of a book is an inviting gateway that rouses something deep inside you, something truly special, something at the heart of who you are and how you see the world? All the better when the book is about a perilous journey undertaken by the one figure in American history who loomed above the miasma of fact sheets and data-to-be-memorized.

My first encounter with the Liberty Bell, at 12, was not particularly memorable. A few days later when my father took me to Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., I was moved, fascinated, and remain haunted to this day by the photographs of the gallows and the hooded bodies of the four conspirators executed on July 7, 1865. As you read Ted Widmer’s Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington (Simon & Schuster paperback 2020), the real-life equivalent of Chekhov’s metaphorical gun is always waiting in the wings, the gun you know will be fired in the last act by an actor who played the crookback king in Shakespeare’s Richard III, one of the numerous plays Lincoln could quote by heart.

Thanks to the map, I was drawn into Widmer’s book before I read a word. There’s a hint of a board game quest in the way the colorful lay-out puts Lincoln’s Odyssey in play, from Springfield to the goal of Washington and inauguration, a route twisted in tangents because of assassination conspiracies brewing in Baltimore, thus Poe’s raven perched on the letter B.

And thanks to my search for an online image of the map, I landed on the April 2020 CUNY Book Beat website and a quote by Ted Widmer that communicates an enthusiasm that can be felt throughout the narrative: “It’s the story of thirteen days in the life of Lincoln. He’s been elected president, the South is seceding, Washington is falling apart and somehow out of all of this chaos he’s got to get on a train, go two thousand miles, meet millions of Americans and try to avoid an assassination attempt. . . .  It’s not just to save the North, it’s to save the entire country, the United States of America, the most successful democracy on earth . . . It felt to me like something out of Greek mythology or any of the old epics from a lot of different civilizations where someone has to fight against terrible odds, almost as if the gods are against him to get to his destination to fulfill his quest. It felt bigger than a story out of American history to me.” more

“ORDINARY DAYS”: Performances are underway for “Ordinary Days.” Directed by Laurie Gougher, the musical runs through July 17 at the Kelsey Theatre. Claire (Jazmynn Perez, left) has suffered a loss that complicates her relationship with her boyfriend, Jason (Shane Tapley, right). Warren (Jackson Jules, second from left) forms an unlikely friendship with Deb (Karaline Rosen, second from right). The cast is accompanied by Michael Gilch (seated at the piano). (Photo by Evan Paine)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

In the musical Ordinary Days a character sings, “All of my most favorite places are places that I’ve never been.” For many theatergoers, a theater housing a live, in-person production is a place that they have never been — at least since March 2020.

Kelsey Theatre has resumed in-person performances. The Kelsey Forward Initiative’s production of Ordinary Days originally was to be presented outside, on the Mercer County Community College (MCCC) campus. However, severe heat and humidity, as well as updates in CDC and state guidelines, led to the production being moved into the auditorium.

The production is “using social distanced seating, and masks are requested during the show,” according to Kelsey’s website. Copies of the program are online rather than in print, and tickets for a livestream are available for viewers who prefer to watch the show online. But the in-person performance attended by this writer (Saturday, July 10) was sold out.

Ordinary Days is a sung-through musical that depicts four New Yorkers whose lives briefly intersect in an unexpected, poetic way. The unassuming, character-driven show is poignant and warmly humorous. It examines the tension between grand ambitions and an ability to treasure daily life; and a character’s need to confront a painful past, in order to welcome a happier future. more

“HADROSAURUS”: A life-sized cast of New Jersey’s state dinosaur is part of the “Written in the Rocks” exhibit at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton. The Museum will reopen to the public with a series of events scheduled for July 24 and 25. Visit statemuseum.nj.gov for more information.

The New Jersey State Museum, located at 205 West State Street in Trenton, has announced that it will reopen for public visitation next week. Closed in March 2020 due to the pandemic, the Museum will open for member early access starting Tuesday, July 20. The public is welcome back on Saturday, July 24.

The State Museum — following applicable state and federal health and safety guidelines — is prioritizing staff and visitor health and safety as it continues its commitment to being a trusted resource for shared cultural and natural heritage. To that end, masks will be required for all visitors over the age of 2, and social distancing is encouraged.

An assortment of fun, family-friendly events and activities will be offered to welcome guests back into the buildings. The main Museum building will be open from 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. (galleries begin closing at 4:30 p.m.), Tuesday through Sunday; and the Auditorium galleries are open Tuesday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Museum is closed to the public on Mondays and state holidays. more

“FALSE IMPRESSIONS”: Mikhail Gubin’s surrealist painting won the Doug Palmer Award for Best in Show, Overall, in the “Ellarslie Open 37/38” exhibition at the Trenton City Museum. Five galleries are filled with 136 works by 126 artists in the show, which runs through October 3.

Thirty-four of the 126 artists with works showcased in the “Ellarslie Open 37/38” at the Trenton City Museum received prizes across 10 categories and six special designations.

“I was deeply impressed by the range of work and diversity of artists who submitted for consideration,” said Juror William R. Valerio, director of the Woodmere Art Museum of Philadelphia. “There was much excellence, and it was a challenge to narrow the field. Awarding prizes was even harder.”

Mikhail Gubin of Queens, N.Y., who won the Doug Palmer Award for Best in Show, Overall, for his surrealist painting False Impressions said, “It was a complete surprise for me, because there were so many wonderful works on display at the exhibition.”  more

“MAGNOLIAS”: This painting by Joan Capaldo is part of “Across the Board: Garden State Watercolor Society,” an in-person and online exhibition on view through August 27 at West Windsor Arts in Princeton Junction and Whole World Arts in the MarketFair shopping center on Route 1. A virtual opening will be held on Friday, July 16 from 7:15–9 p.m.

West Windsor Arts Council presents “Across the Board: Garden State Watercolor Society,” an in-person and online exhibition of original fine art for sale, on view through August 27. The exhibit spaces are at West Windsor Arts, 952 Alexander Road, Princeton Junction, with gallery hours by appointment, and at the new Whole World Arts in the MarketFair shopping center on Route 1. The current hours of operation for this new location are Wednesday through Friday, 3-6 p.m. and Saturday 1-4 p.m. more

Two concerts have been added to the fall schedule of State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick. Gladys Knight appears November 6, and Pat Metheny Side-Eye is November 12. Visit STNJ.org for tickets.

Gladys Knight

Seven-time Grammy Award-winner Knight has had No. 1 hits in pop, gospel, R&B, and adult contemporary. Known as the “Empress of Soul,” Knight’s hits include “I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” “Midnight Train to Georgia,” and “That’s What Friends Are For.” Knight’s TV and movie credits include Dancing with the Stars, I Can Do Bad All By Myself, Empire, Lifetime’s Seasons of Love, Holidaze, and Hollywood Homicide. The Gladys Knight concert is part of State Theatre New Jersey’s Centennial Series, celebrating its 100th anniversary in the newly renovated theater.

Twenty-time Grammy Award-winner Metheny returns to the State Theatre for his Side-Eye tour with pianist James Francies and drummer Joe Dyson. The jazz guitarist and composer is best known for hits such as “As It Is,” “Bright Size Life,” and “Are You Going with Me,” and covers of “And I Love Her,” and “Don’t Know Why.” Metheny’s musical style blends progressive, contemporary jazz, and Latin jazz. In addition to being the only artist to win a Grammy in 10 different categories, he has earned three gold records, and is a member of the DownBeat Hall of Fame, the Royal Swedish Academy of Music, and the Missouri Music Hall of Fame. more

JAZZ UNDER THE STARS: Blue Curtain returns to Pettoranello Gardens with a free concert by the Philadelphia Jazz Orchestra, led by Joe Bongiovi, on July 17.

Blue Curtain, a Princeton summertime tradition, returns to the Pettoranello Gardens Amphitheater for a free concert featuring the Philadelphia Jazz Orchestra on Saturday, July 17 at 7 p.m. The rain/heat date is July 18 at 7 p.m.

The Philadelphia Jazz Orchestra (PJO), under the direction of Joe Bongiovi, is an all-star big band comprised of the best high school and college jazz musicians in the Philadelphia and New Jersey region. In addition to the performances both in the United States and Europe, PJO offers an educational jazz camp for middle school and high school students. Following its Blue Curtain appearance, PJO will embark on a two-week tour in Italy. PJO plays regularly on Wednesdays at Chris’ Jazz Café in Philadelphia. more

STEP UP TO THE MIC: A local tradition for more than three decades, Café Improv returns to the Arts Council of Princeton with an outdoor performance on Hinds Plaza July 24.

For more than 30 years, performers have taken center stage at Café Improv, typically held on the fourth Saturday of the month at the Arts Council of Princeton, to have their music, poetry, or comedy heard in public. After 16 months, the show returns with a special edition outdoor performance on Hinds Plaza Saturday, July 24 from 2 to 5 p.m. The performance is free and open to the public.

The genesis for Café Improv was to create a “listening room” — a safe space — for music and spoken word. “We attempted right from the start to provide an environment where the music and art was respected,” said Tom Florek, Café Improv co-founder. “As a musician, if you perform in bars, you often encounter places that are not really open to hearing your work. From the beginning, we wanted to grow an audience that would be focused on the performance, and we think we have succeeded to a great degree. Café Improv takes pride in being a haven for performers to feel at home performing original works and sharing their poetry to a large and appreciative audience.” more

July 7, 2021

By Stuart Mitchner

Unquestionably, Western man though he be, and Kentuckian by birth, President Lincoln is the essential representative of all Yankees, and the veritable specimen, physically, of what the world seems determined to regard as our characteristic qualities.

—Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

I finished Ted Widmer’s Lincoln On the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington (Simon & Schuster paperback 2020) on the verge of America’s 245th Independence Day and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s 217th birthday.

I was enroute to an unqualified appreciation of Widmer’s book when he brought Nathaniel Hawthorne on board his roundabout journey to Lincoln’s inauguration (1,904 miles, 18 different railway lines, at least 100 speeches, and thousands of handshakes). Hawthorne enters the narrative by way of three quotations in the first 105 pages. Discussing the South’s refusal to accept the reality of Lincoln’s election — for “many Southerners ‘Lincoln was not only unlikable, he was unthinkable.’ ” — Widmer introduces the author of The Scarlet Letter (1850) as “a specialist in fantasy” whose “creative powers simply shut down when he tried to imagine a Lincoln presidency.” Reading that comment with the train-in-motion metaphor in mind was like hitting a rough stretch of poorly maintained track — a giant of American literature was being cast as a genre writer, a mere “specialist.” The rough stretch continued with the thirdhand patchwork paraphrase from Carl Sandburg in James R. Mellon’s The Face of Lincoln (1980): “It was the‘strangest’ thing, Hawthorne wrote, and a true measure of the ‘jumble’ of the times, that Lincoln, ‘out of so many millions,’ had prevailed. He was ‘unlooked for,’ ‘unselected by any intelligible process,’ and ‘unknown’ even to ‘those who chose him.’ How could such a nonentity [Widmer’s term] have found a way to ‘fling his lank personality into the chair of state?’ ” While I didn’t doubt that Hawthorne would have been astonished by Lincoln’s election, I found it hard to believe that his “creative powers” could be shut down by a “nonentity.”

Hawthorne’s next appearance came with a turn of the page to a section headed “Secessia,” after a term he would eventually apply to the Confederate States — in Widmer’s words, “as good a name as any for a place that often seemed to be a state of mind as much as a working government.” At this point it’s worth mentioning that Widmer’s stated source was Hawthorne’s long, controversial article in the July 1862 Atlantic, “Chiefly About War Matters,” which includes an in-person view of Lincoln so irreverent (“the homeliest man I ever saw, yet by no means repulsive or disagreeable”) that the article was published anonymously, “By a Peaceable Man,” and even then partially censored by the editors.  more

By Nancy Plum

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra concluded its “Emerge” digital concert film series last week with a presentation of two towering orchestral works. Recorded in Prudential Hall at Newark’s New Jersey Performing Arts Center in March of this year, this final installment of the trilogy featured Russian pianist and composer Daniil Trifonov and trumpeter Anderson Romero performing Dmitri Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto #1, also known as Concerto in C Minor for Piano, Trumpet and String Orchestra. Led by JNSO Music Director Xian Zhang, last Wednesday night’s performance also included Ludwig van Beethoven’s Symphony No. 4, played by a reduced but no less effective roster of the Orchestra. The online concert was accompanied by visual images focusing on nature and wildlife, filmed throughout New Jersey in communities ranging from Newark to Cape May.

Shostakovich’s 1933 Concerto for piano, trumpet and string orchestra was an homage to the Baroque era through its use of two solo instruments against the accompanying ensemble. Unlike Shostakovich’s more somber and programmatic symphonic works, the Concerto has a lighter and more humorous feeling, diverging from the Russian Romantic compositional tradition of Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.

The soloists for NJSO’s performance of the Concerto were no strangers to New Jersey audiences; pianist Daniil Trifonov has performed in Princeton in recent seasons, and Anderson Romero is NJSO’s assistant principal trumpet. In Wednesday’s performance, Trifonov showed very quick hands on the keyboard, emphasizing well the percussive and slightly quirky nature of the Concerto. Trifonov and conductor Zhang were symbiotic in bending the tempi of the music, finding lyricism even in the more forceful passages. In the expressive sections of the first movement “Allegro,” Trifonov played with his hands lingering on the keys as much as possible, at times demonstrating a very light left hand. Playing from within the orchestral ensemble, Romero provided a joyful and martial trumpet solo throughout the first movement.  more

DANCE ON FILM: Europium Dancetheater will premiere “365” in 13 segments at Hopewell Theater on September 24. The screening will be followed by a live Q&A with director Linda Erickson.

Hopewell Theater is reopening this fall with a full schedule of music, theater, dance, comedy, and more. Early access to tickets is provided to those who become members.

Upcoming shows include Salami’s East Coast Comedy: Living Legends of Laughter Featuring Anna Wise; The Evolution of Joni Mitchell; Daniella Cotton with special guests; Pyrenesia featuring Alex Radius; Time for Three; An Evening with Patty Larkin; Remembering Tom Petty: A Night of Music and Stories; Europium Dancetheater; and more.

The theater is located at 5 South Greenwood Avenue in Hopewell. For more information about upcoming shows and becoming a member, visit hopewelltheater.com.

“MANTIS OF PEACE”: This work by Judith Marchand and David P. Horowitz is part of “The Junkyard,” an all-new outdoor upcycle art exhibit hosted by the Hopewell Valley Arts Council July 23 to July 25 at Woolsey Park. The exhibit will feature artwork by established professional eco artists as well as other creative participants who have reimagined “trash” materials.

Artists will transform Woolsey Park in Hopewell into a temporary sculpture garden from Friday, July 23 to Sunday, July 25 at “The Junkyard,” an all-new outdoor upcycle art exhibition hosted by the Hopewell Valley Arts Council. Open for one weekend only, the event celebrates ingenuity while raising awareness about the need to protect our environment proving that one man’s trash is another’s treasure.

“The Junkyard” will feature artwork by established professional eco artists as well as other creative participants who have reimagined “trash” materials — like plastic bottles, metal tools and nails, Styrofoam, wood pallets, discarded books, or car parts — into unique and astonishing art.

“In our throw-away culture, we need to rethink disposability by upcycling — a totally creative endeavor — to prolong these items’ usefulness and divert them from a landfill,” said Carol Lipson, executive director of the HV Arts Council.

Visitors will explore the five “zones” of “The Junkyard,” taking a tour through a wonderland of trash to treasure. Zone 1 will display entries for the Creative Team Competition, teams of artists and families up for an eco-challenge. Categories assigned to these participants include art for the garden, decorative masks, transformation of a piece of furniture into something with a completely different use, and artists’ choice. more

“M19”: This piece by Bob Ricciotti was named Best in Show at the Center for Contemporary Art’s annual “Members’ Non-Juried Exhibition and Sale.” This year’s exhibit, on view through August 28, features 79 works of art in painting, pastel, charcoal, ink, graphite, photography, mixed media, glass, and ceramics.

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 79 works of art by participating members in painting, pastel, charcoal, ink, graphite, photography, mixed media, glass, and ceramics.

The judge for this year’s exhibition was Susanna Baker, executive director and gallery director for Studio Montclair, Inc. Baker is a N.J.-based artist who combines printmaking, painting, sewing, and 3D effects to create unique artworks. Driven by process, she uses organic and geometric shapes to populate a multi-layered space that might be massive or microscopic. Baker has exhibited widely in both group and solo shows, throughout New Jersey, New York City, Providence, R.I., and San Francisco, Calif. She has also curated a number of shows in the New Jersey area. She received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. more

June 30, 2021

By Stuart Mitchner

Perhaps the most amazing thing about Friday Night Lights is that it is painfully, breathtakingly realistic and yet also exists as some sort of platonic ideal of what human beings can be ….

  —Will Leitch, introducing A Friday Night Lights Companion

When Peter Berg pitched Friday Night Lights to NBC executives in 2006, he accentuated the negative: “I want to build up this all-American quarterback, this hero. This wonderful, beautiful kid with his entire future ahead of him …. And he’s going to break his neck in the first game. We’re going to create this iconic American hero, and we’re going to demolish him.”

Berg is quoted in “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Couldn’t Lose” (a variation on the Dillon, Texas Panthers’ pregame mantra “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose”), an oral history compiled by Robert Mays on grantland.com and posted July 28, 2011. Mays describes the series as the “story of a high school football coach from Dillon, whose improbable victories mirrored those of the critically beloved — but disastrously rated — show itself. In an era when sports television was supposedly at its nadir, when elite storytelling was supposedly only the work of prestige outlets like HBO and AMC, Friday Night Lights (FNL) emerged as the quintessential show about American spirit and uplift at a time when the moral and economic bedrock of our Country seemed most in doubt.”

That was “our Country” a decade ago.  more