November 21, 2018

It was the whiteness of the whale that above all things appalled me.

—Herman Melville, Moby Dick

White Album, White Whale — all’s fair in love and hyperbole when it comes to describing the magnitude of the Beatles when their first double record was released 50 years ago tomorrow. Wrapping the music in white, with the name of the group only faintly perceptible, offered listeners a blank page, as if to say “Use your imagination. Fill in the blank. Set your fancy free.” more

November 14, 2018

By Stuart Mitchner

Whenever I think of New York City in fiction, the first two novels that come to mind are Herman Melville’s Moby Dick, which was published on or before November 14, 1851, and J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, published on July 16, 1951. Ishmael’s voyage, the remedy for the “damp, drizzly November” in his soul, begins on “a dreamy Sabbath afternoon” in “your insular city of the Manhattoes,” where “the streets take you waterward.” The “madman stuff” that happens to Holden Caulfield on his voyage through Manhattan leads him to, among other places, “the movies at Radio City,” which was, he says, “probably the worst thing I ever did.”  more

“YOUR MOVE”: This painting by Charles McVicker is featured in the Garden State Watercolor Society’s “49th Annual Juried Exhibit,” on view November 16 through January 20, 2019 at the Trenton State Museum at Ellarslie in Cadwalader Park. An opening reception is Friday, November 16 from 7 to 10 p.m.

The Trenton State Museum at Ellarslie presents water media artists from New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey in the Garden State Watercolor Society’s ”49th Annual Juried Exhibit,” on view November 16 through January 20, 2019. An opening reception is Friday, November 16 from 7 to 10 p.m. more

ANCIENT ART OF PAPER-CUTTING: Contemporary artist Dan Landau will present a free class on paper-cutting on Monday, November 26 at 6:15 p.m. at Labyrinth Books, 122 Nassau Street, Princeton. The event is free and open to all community members aged 16 and over, but space is limited and registration is required (register at Eventbrite:

Have you ever made a snowflake with folded paper and scissors in school? If so, you’ve engaged in the ancient art of paper-cutting. This art form has been around in one form or another since the Chinese invented paper, and has been infinitely adapted over time by different artists and cultures. more

Chris Hedges

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges will be reading from his new book America: The Farewell Tour (Simon & Schuster $27) at Labyrinth Books on Tuesday, November 27 at 6 p.m.

Ralph Nader says, “Chris Hedges wants us to face realities. Our society is unraveling, institutionally and structurally, and is being replaced by the corporate state of merging big business and government. Commercialism overwhelms civic values, impoverishes its subjects, and reaches into childhoods bypassing parental authority. Poverty, addiction, gambling, and hopelessness spread like epidemics. Only we the people can reverse the disintegration of democracy by plutocracy. In America: The Farewell Tour, Chris Hedges depicts the horrifying truths on the ground from which resistance rises to jolt us into an active, realizable culture of reconstruction.”  more

By Nancy Plum

Anyone who came to the Richardson Chamber Players performance on Sunday afternoon at Richardson Auditorium learned a great deal about unusual instruments and composers. The ensemble took the audience on a musical journey from throughout the Americas to Brooklyn, New York Sunday afternoon with a concert of 20th-century works of composers both known and unknown from Argentina, Brazil, Cuba, Paraguay, and Mexico, and of course, Brooklyn.  The concert, which included a large number of players, was designed to explore music from South and Central America and the Caribbean from composers who in some cases had huge repertories of pieces which were largely unknown. more

“IPHIGENIA AND OTHER DAUGHTERS”: Performances are underway for “Iphigenia and Other Daughters.” Presented by Theatre Intime and directed by Princeton University sophomore Rosie Vasen, the play runs through November 17 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Chrysothemis (Katharine Matthias ‘21, left); Electra (E Harper Nora Jeremijenko-Conley ‘20, center); and Clytemnestra (Abby Spare ‘20) confront each other about their family’s murderous past. Photo by Nora Aguiar.

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Theatre Intime, whose cast and production team consist of Princeton University students, is presenting Ellen McLaughlin’s Iphigenia and Other Daughters. The play is a contemporary retelling of three Greek tragedies — Euripides’ Iphigenia in Aulis and Iphigenia in Tauris and Sophocles’ Electra — with an emphasis on the female characters’ points of view, though Iphigenia’s brother, Orestes, is integral to the story.  more

November 7, 2018

“ROOFTOP VIEW LBI”: This painting is part of Rider University’s exhibit of watercolors by Professor Harry I. Naar. “Watercolors: Observed and Imagined” is on display in the Rider University Art Gallery in the Bart Luedeke Center through November 30. An artist’s talk is Wednesday, November 7 at 7 p.m.

The Rider University Art Gallery features an exhibit of watercolors by Rider Professor and Gallery Founder and Director Harry I. Naar, running through November 30. An artist’s talk is Wednesday, November 7 at 7 p.m.

Judith K. Brodsky, distinguished professor emerita with Rutgers University’s Department of Visual Arts, has written that Naar’s watercolors “…blend the broken strokes of Cézanne, the rhythmic qualities of Van Gogh and the linear marks of Derain into works infused throughout with a charged sensuality.” more

“THREE OVER NINETY”: This painting by Ros Dayan is part of an exhibition opening November 8 at the Princeton Senior Resource Center. The show, also featuring works by Martha Kingslety and Naomi Reich, runs through November 30. A reception is Thursday, November 8 from 4 to 5:30 p.m.  more

Morven Museum & Garden has partnered with the John F. Peto Studio Museum in Island Heights to present “Masters of Illusion: The Legacy of John F. Peto,” a new look at trompe l’oeil art in New Jersey. Trompe l’oeil, pronounced “tromp loi,” is a French phrase meaning “to deceive the eye,” which is used to describe paintings that create the illusion of a three-dimensional scene.  The exhibit runs November 15 through May 12, 2019, with an opening reception on Wednesday, November 14 at 6 p.m.

Born in Philadelphia in 1854, John Frederick Peto has been recognized as one of America’s most accomplished trompe l’oeil artists. After studying at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Peto moved to Island Heights, New Jersey, where he played cornet in the Methodist Camp and worked quietly out of the public eye. In addition to Peto’s paintings, the exhibition will feature Peto’s photography done in and around Island Heights. more

DANCE AND ARCHITECTURE: Choreographer Jessica Lang collaborated with architect Stephen Holl, who designed The Lewis Center for the Arts, on “Tesseracts of Time,” one of the works on the program when Jessica Lang Dance comes to McCarter Theatre Friday, November 16. (Photo by Todd Rosenberg)

By Anne Levin

There is a local connection attached to the return of Jessica Lang Dance to McCarter Theatre on Friday, November 16. The in-demand choreographer has created a work in collaboration with Stephen Holl, the architect responsible for Princeton University’s $330 million Lewis Center for the Arts, which opened just over a year ago. more

By Stuart Mitchner

After three seasons of Amazon Prime’s The Man In the High Castle, I have parallel worlds on the brain. Walking in the city last week, I was acutely aware of the dual realities of the Manhattan of memory and Manhattan 2018. While most people in the midtown crowds were seeing what was there, I was seeing what was no longer there.  more

By Nancy Plum

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra opened its 2018-19 Princeton concert series this past Friday night at Richardson Auditorium. Led by guest conductor Christoph König, the Orchestra launched a season focused on the theme Music Speaks! — performances inspired by poetry, stories, and fantasy. Friday night’s concert in particular presented an outstanding violin soloist in a work not often heard. more

October 31, 2018

By Stuart Mitchner

Too bad Rory Kinnear can’t join the other Frankenreaders at Chancellor Green for tonight’s bicentenary Halloween celebration of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. For me the finest hour of Showtime’s Penny Dreadful was Kinnear’s portrayal of the Creature, who finds his soul in poetry and names himself after the “outcast” English poet John Clare. As the show’s executive producer John Logan put it in the Sunday New York Times, “I wanted to bring the Creature back to Mary Shelley because it has been so badly used over the years in movies.”  more

The Arts Council of Princeton and the Princeton Shopping Center present the annual Day of the Dead celebration on Saturday, November 3 from 3 to 5 p.m. in the Princeton Shopping Center Courtyard. In celebration of Mexico’s El Día de los Muertos, the event features strolling mariachis, sugar skull decorating, face painting, folk arts and crafts, and more. Learn about the traditions of this rich cultural holiday at the free, family-friendly event. For more information, visit or call (609) 924-8777.

“CAKE O’CLOCK”: Eric Hibit’s acrylic on paper (2014) is among the works in the group exhibit “I kinda live where I find myself,” on view at the Gallery at Mercer County Community College through December 20. Works by Chris Bogia, Morgan Hobbs, Lauren Whearty, and Howie Lee Weiss are also featured. A community reception is on November 7 from 5 to 7:30 p.m.

The Gallery at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) is showcasing works by five artists in its group exhibit “I kinda live where I find myself.” The show runs through December 20. The community is invited to a reception on Wednesday, November 7 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. The Gallery is located on the second floor of the Communications Building on the college’s West Windsor campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. more

PAIR OF PUMPKINS: This painting by Jean Dunham is featured in “Nine in November,” an exhibition of the works of nine watercolor artists from the group Watercolorists Unlimited. It will be on view at the Gourgaud Gallery in Cranbury from November 1 to 30, with an artists’ reception on Sunday, November 4 from 1 to 3 p.m.

During the month of November, the Gourgaud Gallery at 23-A North Main Street in Cranbury will host an exhibit titled “Nine in November,” featuring the work of nine watercolor artists from the group Watercolorists Unlimited. A reception will be held on Sunday, November 4 from 1 to 3 p.m. There will be refreshments, and many of the artists will be present. more

By Nancy Plum

The Princeton University Music Department prides itself on training solid vocal and instrumental musicians. Both the University Orchestra and Glee Club tour overseas periodically, no doubt connecting with similar musical organizations internationally, and one of the most foremost European musical training institutions paid a visit to Princeton last week at the invitation of the University Orchestra. Based in Milan, Italy, the Accademia Teatro Alla Scala offers a full range of performing art onstage and backstage training, including an orchestra, which has been on tour this month in the United States. Last Tuesday night, the Accademia Teatro Alla Scala Orchestra presented a concert in Richardson Auditorium focused on a “Dialogue through Music” between Italy and the United States. Featuring music of 19th-century Italian composers or those connected to Italy, last Tuesday night’s performance enthralled the Richardson audience with fresh and youthful instrumental playing.   more

A warm tongue does stick to a cold flagpole. From left, Scott Christian Harris as Ralphie, Christian Korbal as Flick, and Nicholas Benedetti as Schwartz star in “A Christmas Story – The Musical,” presented by M&M Stage Productions at MCCC’s Kelsey Theatre November 16 to December 2. For tickets, visit or call (609) 570-3333. Photo by John Maurer.

WE ARE GOING TO BE BIG STARS: Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of the rock group Queen, which was founded in the early seventies by, from left, bassist John Deacon (Joseph Mazzallo), drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), lead singer Farrokh Bulsara, aka Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek), and guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee). (Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

By Kam Williams

Prior to seeing Bohemian Rhapsody, I knew precious little about the rock group Queen. Sure, I’d enjoyed lots of their pop hits like “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” and “Another One Bites the Dust,” but I was totally unaware of the legendary British band’s back story. more

October 24, 2018

By Stuart Mitchner

With the fear-is-fun holiday looming, Bob Woodward’s Fear: Trump in the White House is a runaway best-seller while Republican midterm candidates are running on fear and dread.

“No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear,” according to Edmund Burke (1729-1797), quoted in Princeton professor Susan Wolfson’s Cultural Edition of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. After referring to “popular tales” concerning “ghosts and goblins,” Burke cites those “despotic governments, which are founded on the passions of men, and principally on the passion of fear.”  more

“THE HANGING BRIDGE ON THE BOUNDARIES OF HIDA AND ETCHŪ PROVINCES”: This woodblock print by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), ca. 1834, is featured in “Picturing Place in Japan,” an exhibition of nearly 40 paintings, prints, books, and photographs from the 16th through the 21st centuries on display at the Princeton University Art Museum through February 24.

The representation of place has been a dominant subject of Japanese painting throughout history. Sometimes these scenes evoke the topography of an actual location, but often the place depicted was imagined or based primarily on past images. Featuring a number of significant loans from the Gitter-Yelen Collection of Dr. Kurt A. Gitter and Alice Yelen Gitter, along with past Museum acquisitions from that collection and works drawn from the holdings of the Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton’s Marquand Library and East Asian Library, and the Gest Collection, “Picturing Place in Japan” takes viewers on a journey through space and time. more

“POEMS OF COLOR”: Jane Adriance’s “Coolscape,” above, and Debbie Pisacreta’s “Where the World Stands Still,” below, are featured in “Poems of Color,” their joint exhibit at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville running November 8 through December 2. An opening reception is Saturday, November 10 from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville presents “Poems of Color,” on display November 8 through December 2. This exhibit by Jane Adriance and Debbie Pisacreta looks at poetry from a visual perspective, with the two artists using shapes and colors instead of words to create visual poems. They introduce images that evoke creative interpretations not only by the artist, but by the viewer as well. An opening reception is Saturday, November 10, from 5 to 8:30 p.m. Coffee and conversation will be held on the last day of the show, December 2, from 2 to 5 p.m. more

By Nancy Plum

The Princeton University Orchestra, never an ensemble to sneak quietly into the concert season, announced its arrival in the new academic year this past weekend with flair and a strong musical statement. In concerts presented Saturday night and Sunday afternoon at Richardson Auditorium, the Orchestra joined the ongoing tribute celebration to American composer Leonard Bernstein, and also started the year off with one of the most challenging works of the Romantic symphonic repertory. Conducted by Ruth Ochs (filling in this past weekend for Orchestra Music Director Michael Pratt), the University Orchestra showed itself more than up to its demanding season ahead. more

The Richardson Chamber Players will play a mixed program of chamber works on November 11 at 3 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium on the Princeton University campus. In tribute to the imminent arrival of famed conductor Gustavo Dudamel, who will be artist in residence at the University, the group plans to play works by Carlos Guastavino, Daniel Binelli, Astor Piazzolla, Hector Villa-Lobos, Lee Brouwer, Agustin Barrios, Carlos Chavez, and George Gershwin. Visit for tickets, which are $15 ($5 for students).