June 26, 2013
SCENTS AND SENTIMENTS: Smooth-talker Steven Kodaly (Kenny Francoeur) romances a smiling Ilona Ritter (Katrina Michaels), as perfume shop employees Sipos (Tommy Prast) and Arpad (Brad Wilson) look on in Princeton Summer Theater’s production of the 1963 romantic musical “She Loves Me,” playing at the Hamilton Murray Theater on the Princeton University campus through June 30.

SCENTS AND SENTIMENTS: Smooth-talker Steven Kodaly (Kenny Francoeur) romances a smiling Ilona Ritter (Katrina Michaels), as perfume shop employees Sipos (Tommy Prast) and Arpad (Brad Wilson) look on in Princeton Summer Theater’s production of the 1963 romantic musical “She Loves Me,” playing at the Hamilton Murray Theater on the Princeton University campus through June 30.

“A romantic atmosphere” pervades the Hamilton Murray Theater, as Princeton Summer Theater (PST) embarks on its new season with a rollicking, endearing production of She Loves Me, a 1963 Broadway hit musical by Jerry Bock (music), Sheldon Harnick (lyrics), and Joe Masteroff (book).

The atmosphere at PST is also full of energy and excitement, as this community of vibrant, committed theater students and young professionals tackles a challenging classic of the musical theater repertoire. It may be a small musical by blockbuster Broadway standards, overshadowed in many ways by Mr. Bock and Mr. Harnick’s A Fiddler on the Roof, which opened one year later; and it may seem old fashioned in both its 1930s Budapest setting and its traditional, character-driven romantic fare. But She Loves Me, in the capable hands of Sash Bischoff, 2009 Princeton University graduate and currently New York-based director, and her talented 13-member ensemble, takes full advantage of the smallness, which translates into an engaging intimacy and focus, and its old fashioned-ness, which proves to be charming and timeless.

With an impressive contingent of recent graduates and undergraduates from Princeton, NYU, and elsewhere, Princeton Summer Theater is winning over sell-out audiences with this luminous and endearing, thoroughly professional opening production. The outlook for its 45th season could hardly be brighter, as its stimulating, eclectic season continues in July with Beth Henley’s Crimes of the Heart and a stage adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock and John Buchan’s The 39 Steps, followed by Donald Margulies Time Stands Still in August.

Set in a perfume shop, She Loves Me is a retelling of Miklos Laszlo’s Hungarian play, Parfumerie, first staged in 1937. The fact that this story has inspired at least three popular movies — The Shop Around the Corner in 1940 with James Stewart, In the Good Old Summertime in 1947 with Judy Garland, and You’ve Got Mail in 1998 with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, in addition to She Loves Me, is ample evidence of the timeless appeal of this simple story of two perfume clerks who squabble constantly, but, unknown to each other, are romantic pen pals deeply in love with their anonymous correspondents.

She Loves Me presents a variety of stories and perspectives on love and romance amongst the seven major characters. In every role, every musical number, and every major scene these characters and their complex human relationships come to vibrant life through the high-quality acting and commitment to character, first-rate musical accompaniment, superb vocal talent throughout the cast, and the finely tuned pacing, direction, and choreography.

The seven-piece band, under the unerring baton of Emily Whitaker, occupies an orchestra pit in the background across the upstage area, and creates an unobtrusive but powerful presence in delivering this melodious music, as well as supporting the plot and character development here.

The redoubtable, ingenious Jeffrey Van Velsor (set designer) and Laura Hildebrand (technical director) lead the production team and create with flair and resourcefulness the world of Maraczek’s perfumerie and its inhabitants. The scenes shift smoothly and rapidly as the three-part walls turn to transform the locale from inside to outside the shop, then to various other interior and exterior Budapest locations. Alex Mannix’s striking and apt lighting and Annika Bennett’s expressive, colorful period costumes further transport the audience into the world of She Loves Me.

As the central quarrelsome duo, Woody Buck as Georg and Holly Linneman as Amalia are strong from start to finish, with confident, appealing voices, credible, compelling characterizations, and a lively chemistry. They win over the audience from the start, and anticipation rises as the mystery of the anonymous romantic epistles gradually unfolds.

From their romantic reflections over each other’s letters (“Three Letters,” “I Don’t Know His Name”) to eager anticipation at the thought of their first meeting (“Tonight at Eight,” “Will He Like Me?”) to their disappointments, at the end of the first of two acts, when the meeting doesn’t quite come off (“Dear Friend”) — Mr. Buck and Ms. Linneman successfully establish this show’s heartwarming central core. A break-through in their romantic travails, precipitated by a gift of “Vanilla Ice Cream,” and the realization of deep feelings on both sides (“She Loves Me”) come to life in two wonderfully rich and memorable theatrical moments here.

In contrast with this fairy tale romance, Amalia’s outspoken friend and confidante, Ilona Ritter (Katrina Michaels), has her own romantic dilemmas. Ms. Michaels uses an attention-grabbing stage presence and her strong, confident vocal talents to advantage in creating this sympathetic, entertaining character who learns her own lessons in dealing with the vicissitudes of romance with a two-timing (or is it more than two?) paramour.

As Kodaly, Ilona’s urbane, deceiving lover, Kenny Francoeur maintains his suave, charming façade to the end. He crowns his exhortations of true love in the face of all evidence to the contrary in his first-rate song-and-dance numbers, “Ilona” near the end of the first act and his smilingly caustic farewell, “Grand Knowing You,” near the end of the second act.

Meanwhile, in another one of several subplots, Arpad (Brad Wilson), the bicycle-riding, eager young errand boy aspiring to become a clerk, provides perspective and some light comic background as he observes the proceedings, learns some life lessons, and develops in maturity and character as the plot unwinds.

Tommy Prast’s Sipos, another perfume clerk, effectively lends the jaded vantage point of age and experience to the proceedings, while Evan Thompson’s Mr. Maraczek, the aging owner of the shop, contributes additional darker shadings to the tone of She Loves Me with his nostalgic reminiscences of his youth, in the tuneful “Days Gone By,” and his despair and suicide attempt over his wife’s infidelity.

In addition to these intriguing stories, the importance of the ensemble, mostly nameless and in the background though they be, should not be underestimated. Chris Beard, Maeve Brady, Victoria Gruenberg, Emma Paton, Pat Rounds, and Nikki Yarnell, in a variety of roles from fashionable perfume shoppers to restaurant patrons (with a highly dramatic and athletic tour de force by Mr. Beard as the head waiter), sustain their own complex characters and remain credible throughout in helping to create this captivating world.

In discussing the four major productions of the 2013 Princeton Summer Theater season, artistic director Emma Watt says, “They were bound by a common theme of making the ordinary extraordinary.” With its exquisite music, lyrics, and book, under the direction of Ms. Bischoff and her superb PST company, She Loves Me does just that and promises a dynamic, exhilarating PST season ahead.

 

This season The Princeton Festival has been presenting a wide variety of musical genres ranging from a cappella vocal jazz to chamber music to the Festival’s annual youth piano competition. There is only one major operatic offering this season, presented this past weekend with a repeat performance later in the festival. The music of opera titan Richard Wagner might initially seem a bit overwhelming for a summer music audience, but The Princeton Festival’s production of Wagner’s 1843 Der fliegende Holländer (The Flying Dutchman) was crisp as dramatic theater with musical emphasis on elegance, melodic solo lines, and the omnipresent brass which marks much of Wagner’s operatic output.

Performed in German with English supertitles at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre, last Saturday night’s performance drew its six principal lead cast members from high places, beginning with the Metropolitan Opera. Both principal male characters were sung by Met regulars; baritone Mark Delavan and bass Richard Bernstein took charge of their roles and the tension between their characters with clear vocal and dramatic strength clearly gained from years on opera’s major stages. Much of this opera revolves around the sea, and as the Norwegian sea captain Daland, Mr. Bernstein vocally rolled with the undulating orchestral accompaniment and visual effects of the tossing waves. Looking sufficiently bedraggled for being eternally at sea, Mr. Delavan’s “Flying Dutchman” conveyed a range of emotions, both plaintive and foreboding, as he sought to break the curse of endless wandering on the ocean seeking the love of his life. Like the Commendatore in Don Giovanni, Mr. Delavan’s Dutchman was on a mission, the roots of which were clearly not of this earth.

Soprano Indra Thomas may not be singing at the Met at this time, but that is likely in her future. Philadelphia audiences have long known how amazing Ms. Thomas is as a singer and the sold-out house at McCarter clearly recognized her vocal powers and range of emotions in her role as Daland’s daughter Senta. From her dreamy presence among her fellow spinning girls to her final leap into the ocean to join her beloved Dutchman, Ms. Thomas produced an incredible amount of sound with very little effort and exhibited the ability to change musical expression and mood on a dime in this demanding role.

Two stand-out tenors were Jason Wickson, singing the role of the huntsman Erik and Alex Richardson as Daland’s steersman. Mr. Richardson set the stage well for the arrival of the Dutchman’s “phantom” ship with a lyrical and appealing voice, and Mr. Wickson definitively proclaimed his love for Senta in a passionate and richly musical soliloquy. Rounding out this very solid cast was mezzo-soprano Dana Beth Miller, keeping the spinning girls in line with rich vocal tones, maternal instinct, and toughness. The six principals of this opera were well supported by large choruses of sailors and spinning girls who provided full and solid choral accompaniment for the large ensemble scenes.

Although the cast was listed as only eight principal roles, there were two other “characters” with significant impact on the production — the Princeton Festival Orchestra and the technology employed to bring Wagner’s libretto and music to life. Conductor Richard Tang Yuk cleanly led an orchestra which showed exact playing from the crisp horn call which opened the overture. Throughout the long introduction to the first act, Mr. Tang Yuk kept the music rolling along, bringing out the early 19th-century classicism and refinement. Elegant wind and brass solos recurred throughout the opera, including from hornist Karen Schubert, oboist Geoff Deemer and English hornist Evan Ocheret. With rich lower strings capturing the mood of the sea topped by a graceful harp, the Festival Orchestra captured the nuances of the story (especially with Senta’s passages echoed by oboe) and never overpowered the singers.

Technology has revolutionized operatic production with the capabilities of visual effects on flat screens, and designers Marc Pirolo, Norman Coates, and David Palmer created innovative and at times spell-binding visuals to absorb the backdrops of the stage. The sea undulated, clouds floated by and The Dutchman’s vessel arose as a ghost ship from the bottom of the sea. Lighting changes matched the moods of the story, and this ability to successfully combine film and live opera enhanced the audience’s experience considerably.

This opera was a major undertaking for The Princeton Festival — somewhat off the beaten repertory track and requiring a depth of vocal talent which surely was a huge financial investment. The house was close to sold out on Saturday night, showing that perhaps Wagner can have a home in Princeton after all.

 
I’M GOING TO GET YOU ON A NAVY SHIP IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN, WHERE YOU’LL BE SAFE: Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt, right) is struggling through the panic-stricken crowd with his wife Karen (Mireille Enos, left), who is holding their daughter Constance (Sterling Jerins). Gerry is holding onto their other daughter Rachel (Abigail Hargrove) as they work their way to the embarkation point where Gerry’s family can be transported to the Navy’s safe ship, while Gerry goes off to help save the world from the pandemic.

I’M GOING TO GET YOU ON A NAVY SHIP IN THE ATLANTIC OCEAN, WHERE YOU’LL BE SAFE: Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt, right) is struggling through the panic-stricken crowd with his wife Karen (Mireille Enos, left), who is holding their daughter Constance (Sterling Jerins). Gerry is holding onto their other daughter Rachel (Abigail Hargrove) as they work their way to the embarkation point where Gerry’s family can be transported to the Navy’s safe ship, while Gerry goes off to help save the world from the pandemic.

After a career spent risking his life in international hotspots like Bosnia and Liberia, Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) resigned from his dangerous post at the United Nations in order to devote himself to his family. As the story unfolds, we find him assuring his wife (Mireille Enos) and young daughters (Sterling Jerins and Abigail Hargrove) that he has quit his job to spend more time with them at home.

However, that same morning on TV, network news anchors are reporting rumors of a rapidly spreading rabies outbreak overseas. Eventually, all hell starts to breaks loose in the U.S., too, after the president perishes and the vice president is missing.

By the time the Emergency Broadcast System takes over the airwaves, the escalating zombie scourge can no longer be covered up or contained. And the pandemic, which started in Taiwan, has already overrun a dozen countries.

Given the desperate state of affairs, Gerry has no choice but to answer the call when he is begged by the U.N. Deputy Secretary General Thierry Umutoni (Fana Mokoena) to come out of retirement. He agrees to join a crack team of researchers whose mission is to find the source of the outbreak and develop a vaccine.

After he secures berths for his family aboard a quarantined Navy ship that is safely located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, Gerry boards a plane to try and track down the epidemic. What ensues is a harrowing adventure that includes South Korea, Jerusalem, and Wales.

At each stop, Gerry and his team members encounter voracious zombies that can only be destroyed by burning them or shooting them in the head. Of course, the team ultimately figures out how to turn the tide, although the resolution conveniently leaves a loophole, thereby setting up the beginning of the sequel for the second film in a planned trilogy.

Directed by Marc Forster (Monster’s Ball), World War Z is a summer blockbuster any way you slice it. With its hordes of man-eating creatures, mob scenes of panicked citizens, tension-maximizing editing, captivating special effects, breathtaking panoramas of the collapse of civilization, and a matinee idol as the hero, the film’s features assure the audience its money’s worth of viewing pleasure and excitement.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for disturbing images and pervasive horror violence. Running time: 115 minutes. Distributor: Paramount Pictures.

 

 

Art Times Two Gallery, Princeton Brain and Spine Care, 731 Alexander Road, presents photos by Eileen Hohmuth-Lemonick and Kris Giacobbe, titled “REPORT: Providing Health Care Where Basic Needs are Unmet” through November. View by appointment. Call (609) 203-4622.

Artists’ Gallery, 18 Bridge Street, Lambertville, has “Sunshine & Joy,” paintings by Douglas Sardo and Joe Kazimierczyk through June 30. A closing reception is June 30, 3-5 p.m. From July 5-August 4, painters Alla Podolsky and Charlie Katzenbach show their work. The opening is July 6, 5-9 p.m. Visit lambertville
arts.com.

Arts Council of Prince–ton, Paul Robeson Center, 102 Witherspoon Street, has a Terrace Project by Chris Maher and Instructor/Student Work on view through July. www.artscouncilof
princeton.org.

Bernstein Gallery, Robertson Hall, Woodrow Wilson School of Princeton University has “Passages: Mixed Media Artwork by Ela Shah” through September 11. (609) 497-2441.

Cherry Grove Farm, 3200 Route 206, Lawrenceville, is displaying work by members of The Creative Collective throughout the summer. Visit meetup.com/Creative-Collec
tive-of-Mercer-County.

D&R Greenway, 1 Preservation Place, has “Dangerous Blossoms,” a mixed-media exhibit, through July 19. Visit www.drgreenway.org.

Ellarslie, Trenton’s City Museum in Cadwalader Park, Parkside Avenue, Trenton, presents the Delaware Valley Fine Crafts Invitational and “Memories of Warsaw,” paintings and drawings by Kyle Hamilton, through July 28. “Trenton Entourage Motors ‘Round the World in 1909” is through September 22. The opening reception for the shows is June 22, 7-9 p.m. (609) 989-1191.

Firestone Library at Princeton University, has “Your True Friend and Enemy: Princeton and the Civil War” in the Mudd Manuscript Library through July 31. “A Republic in the Wilderness: Treasures of American History from Jamestown to Appomattox” is on view through August.

Gallery 14, 14 Mercer Street, Hopewell, has “Look Again” by Rhoda Kassof-Isaac, “Into the Garden” by Martha Weintraub, and “Colors of Iceland” by Wiebke Martens” through July 7. Visit photogallery14.com.

Gourgaud Gallery, Town Hall, Cranbury, has “Spring Splash,” works by Watercolorists Unlimited, through June 30. From July 8-28, “Caithness and Sutherland Landscapes,” photos by Kelli Lynn Abdoney, is on display.

Grounds for Sculpture, Fairgrounds Road in Hamilton, has Ming Fay’s “Canutopia” in the East Gallery through July. In the Meadow, “THRE3” and “MYTHOS” are on view. Visit www.groundsforsculpture.org.

Historical Society of Princeton, Bainbridge House, 158 Nassau Street, has photographs from its collection in the Princeton Pride Gallery. “We Love Princeton: Stories from the Street” and “Einstein at Home” are also on view. For more information visit www.princetonhistory.org.

The James A. Michener Art Museum at 138 South Pine Street in Doylestown, Pa., has “Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song” through September 29. “Nelson Shanks: A Brush with Reality” is exhibited through September 8. “Harry Bertola: Structure and Sound” is on view July 20-October 13. Visit www.michenerartmuseum.org.

The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, 71 Hamilton Street, on the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick, has “Henri-Gabriel Ibels” through September 8. Works by Russian artist Leonid Sokov are displayed through July 14. “Stars: Contemporary Prints by Derriere L’Etoile Studio” is on view through September 29. “Leningrad’s Perestroika: Crosscurrents in Photography, Video, and Music” is on view through September 13. “Lynd Ward Draws Stories: Inspired by Mexico’s History, Mark Twain, and Adventures in the Woods” is on view weekends through June 30.

Lawrence Library, 2751 Brunswick Pike, shows Robert Allard’s pen and ink and pencil drawings through June 30. Visit mcl.org.

Morven Museum & Garden, 55 Stockton Street, shows “Coastal Impression, Painters of the Jersey Shore, 1880-1940” through September 29. Visit www.morven.org.

New Hope Arts Center, 2 Stockton Avenue, New Hope, Pa., has the Artsbridge 19th Annual Juried Show through June 29 (Fridays-Sundays, 1-5 p.m.). In the “A” Space, “don’t mention the WAR,” recent work by Linda Guenste, is on view through July 3. Visit www.artsbridgeonline.com.

New Jersey State Museum, 205 West State Street, Trenton, has “The Re-Connection Project: Endangered Birds of New Jersey” through July 15. Visit statemuseum.nj.gov.

Princeton Theological Seminary’s Erdman Gallery, 20 Library Place, exhibits works by master iconographers and apprentices of the Prosopon School through June 30.

The Princeton University Art Museum has “Picturing Power: Capitalism, Democracy, and American Portraiture” through June 30. From June 29-September 15, “Shared Vision: The Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla Collection of Photography” is exhibited. “American Prospects: 19th Century City Views by William James Bennett” is shown through July 14. Museum hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Call (609) 258-3788.

Small World Coffee, 14 Witherspoon Street, has “Away We Go,” a group exhibition by Art+10, through July 2. From July 3-August 5, Vasundhara Bharatiya will be showing her work. The opening is July 14, 3-6 p.m.

Two-Nineteen Gallery, 219 East Hanover Street, Trenton, presents “What’s Happenin’” through July 5. Mel Leipzig curated the exhibit of emerging artists. www.sagecoalitionnj.com.

Veridian Gallery, 43 South Main Street, Pennington, has recent watercolors by Linda Bradshaw through June 29.

West Windsor Arts Center, 952 Alexander Road, West Windsor, has “Full Circles/Painters Circle,” the work of older artists, through July 20.

June 21, 2013

book revHe reached the Capital as the poor, hunted fugitive slave reaches the North, in disguise, seeking concealment, evading pursuers … crawling and dodging under the sable wing of night. He changed his programme, took another route, started at another hour, travelled in other company, and arrived at another time in Washington. We have no censure for the President at this point. He only did what braver men have done.

—Frederick Douglass,

Life and Times (1881)

There are many reasons to think well of Baltimore, in spite of its being the place where the plot to assassinate President-elect Abraham Lincoln was hatched and might have been carried out but for the counter machinations described in Daniel Stashower’s The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War (Minotaur Books $26.99).

Let’s start with the fact that the Baltimore Ravens are the only professional sports team in the world named for a poem. When the owner of the Cleveland Browns decided to move his NFL franchise to Baltimore, a telephone survey and a fan contest came up with a list of 17 names that was trimmed to three by focus groups of 200 Baltimore area residents and a phone survey of 1000 people. A fan contest drawing 33, 288 voters picked Edgar Allan Poe’s immortal bird over the Marauders and the Americans.

It’s hard not to like a city that chooses for its team’s mascot and emblem a bird of ill-omen from a poem dreamed up by a dissolute genius who died under suspect circumstances on that same city’s mean streets. And how have these Ravens fared under the curse of Poe’s “grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore”? A year after taking the field in 1999, they won the Super Bowl. Last year Edgar’s team did it again. All told, since they moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens, they have made the play-offs nine times.

Other reasons to hang four big stars on Baltimore: the Florentine tower once crowned by a giant bottle of Bromo Seltzer; the red neon of the Domino sugar sign reflected in the harbor; the Fells Point diner immortalized in Barry Levinson’s Diner, and, of course, Camden Yards, a throwback to baseball’s glory years built on a site associated with the proposed assassination of the man who saved the Union. Meanwhile let’s add a fifth star for David Simon’s peerless five-part portrait of “Bulletmore Murderland” in The Wire, and Randy Newman’s “Baltimore,” arguably the best song ever written about an American city. Whether or not it’s true that Newman composed it without ever having actually experienced the place, the way he sings the bluesy lament over an edgy, atmospheric piano vamp (“It’s hard just to live”), you know he owns Baltimore the way Ray Davies owns Waterloo Station and Wordsworth owns Westminster Bridge and Keats owns the Grecian Urn.

Travel back to February 1861 in The Hour of Peril and the city’s not something you want to write a song about, it’s the “mob-town” of secessionist riot, bristling with weaponry, like a malevolent juggernaut set in motion to crush the new president before he can reach the nation’s capitol. In Stashower’s book, Baltimore is the epicenter of villainy, a haven for radicals such as Poe’s eerie double, the assassin-in-waiting John Wilkes Booth, who, like Poe, is buried in Baltimore. Stashower’s compulsive page-turner becomes a litany of threats until the sheer magnitude of the communal death-wish expressed in vows to shoot, stab, bludgeon, or bomb the despised “tyrant” makes The Hour of Peril seem nothing less than a prologue to the moment Booth fired the shot heard round the land on April 14, 1865.

And in case you think everyone in Baltimore has come round to agreeing with the rest of the country that Lincoln was our greatest president (per Nate Silver’s composite FiveThirtyEight poll on nytimes.com), you need only look up the assassin on welcometobaltimorehon.com, to find, from March of this year, “a gaint [sic] who killed a midget god bless john wilkes booth,” and from September 2012, “God Bless the Great Maryland Hero.”

“All Was Confusion”

Apparently there are people who still contend that Baltimore posed no serious threat to Lincoln’s life, that he could have moved from Calvert Street Station to Camden Depot as scheduled. At the time, security constraints precluded disclosure of the evidence that might have silenced those who were lambasting him for not riding proudly into town to make a speech like the ones he’d been delivering to cheering crowds on his triumphant post-election whistlestop tour from Springfield, Illinois through Indiana, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

Besides being a compelling narrative, The Hour of Peril makes a strong, thoroughly researched case for the life-saving necessity of presidential subterfuge on February 22-23, 1861. No one but the most blindly biased reader will finish the book believing that Lincoln could have passed through Baltimore unscathed. The Pratt Street riot that occurred two months later and cost the lives of four Union soldiers and 12 civilians (historians consider it the first bloodshed of the Civil War) offers a hint of the calamity prevented by Alan Pinkerton’s detective work, among numerous other factors that convinced the president-elect to let discretion be the better part of valor. And, as Lincoln feared, the decision to sneak through Baltimore incognito in a different train hours ahead of schedule (arriving in Washington, as he put it himself, “like a thief in the night”) exposed him to ridicule from newspapers both north and south.

In fact, even friendly crowds proved to be dangerous. There were crushes at every station, near-riots, injuries, drunken brawls, squads of police “swept aside,” soldiers called in to maintain order. In Albany, “all was confusion, hurry, disorder, mud, riot, and discomfort.” In New York City, where the security and crowd control were impressively managed, there was still “much anxiety,” according to the poet Walt Whitman, who “had no doubt” that “many an assassin’s knife and pistol lurk’d in hip or breast pocket.” It was worse in New Jersey, which Lincoln had failed to carry in the election and “where signs of ambivalence, if not outright hostility, were plainly visible along the route.” In Newark, Lincoln’s carriage “passed a black-bearded effigy swinging by the neck from a lamp post.”

Lincoln’s Character

Stashower’s account of Lincoln’s words and actions during the 13-day tour provides some unusual glimpses of the man, some less than flattering, but all in the arc of his character as history and legend have shaped it — unaffected, down to earth, fond of a quip or a good story, cool under fire. But then his virtues were also seen as defects. Old Abe the country wit was no more than a bumptious fool with delusions of grandeur to his enemies, and even his friends thought some of the speeches he made along the way weak and foolishly out of touch with the plight of the nation.

The Movie 

The Baltimore Plot inspired Anthony Mann’s 1951 film, The Tall Target, as exciting a train movie as Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes. Dick Powell stars as John Kennedy, a New York City police detective named after the real-life New York police commissioner who vied with Pinkerton for the credit in warning Lincoln away from Baltimore. While the narrative excitement in The Hour of Peril develops out of the struggle to ensure Lincoln’s safe passage to Washington, The Tall Target takes the term “action-packed” to another level. Along with Paul Vogel’s richly film-noirish cinematography, the fun of the movie is in the way the life-and-death struggle meshes with details of the mid-19th-century train, the curtained berths, the engineers and firemen, the horse-drawn passage of the carriages through the streets of Baltimore, the interplay of passengers unaware of the high-stakes battle going on around them (one such scene takes place at the New Brunswick station).  Powell/Kennedy’s life is inadvertently saved by one of his enemies, a conspirator (played by the ever-effervescent Adolphe Menjou), and then by a conflicted black servant (a sweetly sympathetic Ruby Dee) who has a warm quasi sibling relationship with her mistress (Paula Raymond). Judging from the number of times Powell is either hanging by one hand from the moving train or crawling along on top of it or chasing after it, his performance must have been the most exhausting of his Hollywood career.

The Captivating Widow

At the end of The Tall Target the female Pinkerton agent who discreetly boards the train in Baltimore with the disguised president-elect is played by an actress with a name (Katherine Warren) almost identical with that of her real-life counterpart Kate Warne. Quoted in The Hour of Peril, Pinkerton depicts the first female detective in America as a “slender, graceful … perfectly self-possessed” young widow with “captivating blue eyes — sharp, decisive, and filled with fire.”  Half a century ahead of her time (the NYPD’s first female investigator was hired in 1903), she proved to be “a versatile and utterly fearless operator,” as when she forged “a useful intimacy” with the wife of a suspected murderer and posed as a fortune teller (“the only living descendant of Hermes”) in the investigation of a superstitious suspect. Her role in the uncovering of the Baltimore plot was essential. She infiltrated Baltimore society as a “Mrs. Barley of Alabama” with “an ease of manner that was,” in Pinkerton’s words, again, “quite captivating” as she cultivated “the acquaintance of the wives and daughters of the conspirators.” While standing up to male operatives and others trying to bully classified information out of her, Mrs. Warne successfully delivered the messages that helped convince Lincoln to go along with Pinkerton’s plan and board an earlier train in the guise of her invalid brother for the last perilous stretch of the journey to Washington; it was also up to her to make sure they had berths in the rearmost part of the car. Mrs. Warne recalled that the president was “so very tall that he could not lay straight in his berth” and that he “talked very friendly for some time …. The excitement seemed to keep us all awake.”

Pinkerton’s habit of using the word “captivating” in regard to Kate Warne has tempted some to wonder if they had a relationship outside the profession (at 42, he was almost 20 years her senior). Perhaps someone will remake The Tall Target with a romantic subplot in which the Dick Powell character’s accomplice is a mysterious female who appears at crucial moments and by the end has everyone, including Abraham Lincoln, under her spell. Randy Newman could compose a soundtrack worthy of her -— and Baltimore.

POPPY: This watercolor by Gail Bracegirdle is part of the “Dangerous Blossoms” exhibition currently on view at the D&R Greenway Land Trust, through July 19, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except holidays. To confirm hours and for more information, call (609) 924-4646, or visit: www.drgreenway.org.

POPPY: This watercolor by Gail Bracegirdle is part of the “Dangerous Blossoms” exhibition currently on view at the D&R Greenway Land Trust, through July 19, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except holidays. To confirm hours and for more information, call (609) 924-4646, or visit: www.drgreenway.org.

A range of works in a variety of media by artists Silvere Boureau, Gail Bracegirdle, Linda Brooks Hirschman, Bisa Butler, Dolores Cohen, Lora Durr, Kathie Miranda, Linnea W. Rhodes, William Vandever, Andrew Wilkinson, and Anne Zeman comprise the D&R Greenway Land Trust’s current show, “Dangerous Blossoms.”

The title of the show says it all. But while the focus is on poisonous and invasive species that do harm to humans, insects, and other plant species, the images on view celebrate their beauty at the same time. You’ll find “Flowery Foes” such as Foxglove, Pokeweed, and Porcelain Berry.

You’ll learn of the potent secrets of poisonous plants such as those which authors like Agatha Christie have favored as a means of murder as well as how beautiful but fatal flowers are increasingly destroying native species in our region.

“New toxicities spell the death of native plants, who have no defenses against the exotics,” says Curator Diana Moore. “Despite their beauty, invasives such as loosestrife, certain celandines, honeysuckles, and multiflora rose spell doom for native landscapes.”

All art is for sale, a 35 percent of each sale supports D&R Greenway’s preservation and stewardship mission. “A key factor of D&R Greenway stewardship is the removal of invasive species, replacing them with the natives that belong here,” says President Linda Mead.

To this end, the D&R Greenway sells native plants grown from seed to local gardens and gardeners. Natives require less water and fertilizer to thrive. They evolved with their pollinators, nourishing insects and birds over the centuries. The seeds are gathered by volunteers on the Land Trust’s preserves.

Highlights of “Dangerous Blossoms” include Silvere Boureau’s oil paintings of Porcelain Vine, Foxglove, and Belladonna, and Andrew Wilkinson’s outstanding photographs.

Don’t miss Anne Zeman’s photographs. “I began photographing flowers for their beauty,” says Ms. Zeman. “I now photograph plants primarily for identification and to understand how they relate to their environment. To look at a plant closely you become aware of something else — perhaps how an insect is drawn to it or how it survives in harsh or unusual conditions,” she says.

For the “Dangerous Blossoms” exhibition, Ms. Zeman writes, in the commentary to her work, that she “began to think about the unique relationship of beauty and danger, whether it be toxic to humans, insects, or the environment. The poisonous properties of many plants are well known, but other dangers lurk, too: the Round-leaved Sundew’s sticky moonscape is lethal to the insect that lands on it; the Pitcher Plant lures with sweet nectar only to consume the unsuspecting; and the lovely looking Porcelain Berry is so invasive it chokes out edible native plants necessary for our birds and insects.”

Of course, no exhibition at the Greenway would be complete without advice on the environment. In this instance you will find listings of alternative natives such as Swamp Milkweed, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, Hollow Stem Joe Pye, Swamp Rose, New England Aster, and Narrow-leaved Mountain Mint as well as a Top Ten List of What Not to Plant: Japanese Barberry, Butterfly Bush, European Privet, Siebold and Linden Viburnums, Amur and Japanese Honeysuckles, Purple Loosestrife, and Callery Pear, which have been found to be most invasive to the landscapes managed by the D&R Greenway Trust.

Emily Blackman, who manages the Native Plant Nursery, mentions the following perennials, shrubs, grasses and sedges as currently available: Hollow-Stem Joe Pye, Autumn Helenium, Narrow-Leaved Mountain Mint; Buttonbush, Sweet Pepperbush, Steeplebush; Pennsylvania Sedge, Bottlebrush Grass, and Woolgrass. A current nursery catalog is available online.

“Dangerous Blossoms” is in three rooms at the Johnson Education Center, including the Marie L. Matthews Gallery, named for the noted Princeton artist and a nature photographer, at the D&R Greenway Land Trust, One Preservation Place (off Rosedale Road) through July 19, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., except holidays. The nursery is open to the public from 3 to 6 p.m. on Fridays through the end of August (except July 5). For more on the nursery, contact Emily Blackman at (609) 924-4646, ext. 126, or eblackman@drgreenway.org. For more on D&R Greenway, call (609) 924-4646, or visit: www.drgreenway.org.

Art Times Two Gallery, Princeton Brain and Spine Care, 731 Alexander Road, presents photos by Eileen Hohmuth-Lemonick and Kris Giacobbe, titled “REPORT: Providing Health Care Where Basic Needs are Unmet” through November. View by appointment. Call (609) 203-4622.

Artists’ Gallery, 18 Bridge Street, Lambertville, has “Sunshine & Joy,” paintings by Douglas Sardo and Joe Kazimierczyk through June 30. A closing reception is June 30, 3-5 p.m. From July 5-August 4, painters Alla Podolsky and Charlie Katzenbach show their work. The opening is July 6, 5-9 p.m. Visit lambertvillearts.com.

Arts Council of Princeton, Paul Robeson Center, 102 Witherspoon Street, has a Terrace Project by Chris Maher and Instructor/Student Work on view through July. www.artscouncilof
princeton.org.

Cherry Grove Farm, 3200 Route 206, Lawrenceville, is displaying work by members of The Creative Collective throughout the summer. Visit meetup.com/Creative-Collec
tive-of-Mercer-County.

College of New Jersey Art Gallery, Pennington Road, Ewing Township, presents “Art, Innovation and Ideas,” a juried K-12 exhibition through June 23 including work by students from all over the state. Artist Faith Ringgold is among the jurors.

D&R Greenway, 1 Preservation Place, has “Dangerous Blossoms,” a mixed-media exhibit, through July 19. Visit www.drgreenway.org.

Ellarslie, Trenton’s City Museum in Cadwalader Park, Parkside Avenue, Trenton, presents the Delaware Valley Fine Crafts Invitational and “Memories of Warsaw,” paintings and drawings by Kyle Hamilton, through July 28. “Trenton Entourage Motors ‘Round the World in 1909” is through September 22. The opening reception for the shows is June 22, 7-9 p.m. (609) 989-1191.

Firestone Library at Princeton University, has “Your True Friend and Enemy: Princeton and the Civil War” in the Mudd Manuscript Library through July 31. “A Republic in the Wilderness: Treasures of American History from Jamestown to Appomattox” is on view through August.

Gallery 14, 14 Mercer Street, Hopewell, has “Look Again” by Rhoda Kassof-Isaac, “Into the Garden” by Martha Weintraub, and “Colors of Iceland” by Wiebke Martens” through July 7. Visit photogallery14.com.

Gourgaud Gallery, Town Hall, Cranbury, has “Spring Splash,” works by Watercolorists Unlimited, through June 30.

Grounds for Sculpture, Fairgrounds Road in Hamilton, has Ming Fay’s “Canutopia” in the East Gallery through July. In the Meadow, “THRE3” and “MYTHOS” are on view. Visit www.grounds
forsculpture.org.

Historical Society of Princeton, Bainbridge House, 158 Nassau Street, has photographs from its collection in the Princeton Pride Gallery. “We Love Princeton: Stories from the Street” and “Einstein at Home” are also on view. For more information visit www.princeton
history.org.

The James A. Michener Art Museum at 138 South Pine Street in Doylestown, Pa., has “Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song” through September 29. “Nelson Shanks: A Brush with Reality” is exhibited through September 8. “Harry Bertola: Structure and Sound” is on view July 20-October 13. Visit www.michenerartmuseum.org.

The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, 71 Hamilton Street, on the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick is exhibiting “Henri-Gabriel Ibels” through September 8. Works by Russian artist Leonid Sokov are displayed through July 14. “Stars: Contemporary Prints by Derriere L’Etoile Studio” is on view through September 29. “Leningrad’s Perestroika: Crosscurrents in Photography, Video, and Music” is on view through September 13. “Lynd Ward Draws Stories: Inspired by Mexico’s History, Mark Twain, and Adventures in the Woods” is on view weekends through June 30.

Lawrence Library, 2751 Brunswick Pike, shows Robert Allard’s pen and ink and pencil drawings through June 30. Visit mcl.org.

Morven Museum & Garden, 55 Stockton Street, shows “Coastal Impression, Painters of the Jersey Shore, 1880-1940” through September 29. Visit www.morven.org.

New Hope Arts Center, 2 Stockton Avenue, New Hope, Pa., has the Artsbridge 19th Annual Juried Show through June 29 (Fridays-Sundays, 1-5 p.m.). In the “A” Space, “don’t mention the WAR,” recent work by Linda Guenste, is on view through July 3. Visit www.artsbridgeonline.com.

New Jersey State Museum, 205 West State Street, Trenton, has “The Re-Connection Project: Endangered Birds of New Jersey” through July 15. Visit statemuseum.nj.gov.

Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street, has in it’s second floor gallery a “Drip Art Series” by members of the Arctists Collective.

Princeton Theological Seminary’s Erdman Gallery, 20 Library Place, exhibits works by master iconographers and apprentices of the Prosopon School through June 30.

The Princeton University Art Museum has “Picturing Power: Capitalism, Democracy, and American Portraiture” through June 30. “1913: The Year of Modernism” is on display through June 23. From June 29-September 15, “Shared Vision: The Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla Collection of Photography” is exhibited. “American Prospects: 19th Century City Views by William James Bennett” is shown through July 14. Museum hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Call (609) 258-3788.

Small World Coffee, 14 Witherspoon Street, has “Away We Go,” a group exhibition by Art+10, through July 2. From July 3-August 5, Vasundhara Bharatiya will be showing her work. The opening is July 14, 3-6 p.m.

Triumph Brewery, 138 Nassau Street, has works by Jordana Scheer through June 22.

Two-Nineteen Gallery, 219 East Hanover Street, Trenton, presents “What’s Happenin’” through July 5. Mel Leipzig curated the exhibit of emerging artists. www.sagecoalitionnj.com.

Veridian Gallery, 43 South Main Street, Pennington, has recent watercolors by Linda Bradshaw through June 29.

West Windsor Arts Center, 952 Alexander Road, West Windsor, has “Full Circles/Painters Circle,” the work of older artists, through July 20. The opening reception is June 23, 4-6 p.m. (609) 716-1931.

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THAT??: Four of the celebrities, from left, Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, and Craig Robinson, who managed to save themselves from the apocalyptic earthquake that interrupted the Hollywood party they were at, are confronted by something they have never seen before and are trying to figure out a way of escaping from it.

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS THAT??: Four of the celebrities, from left, Danny McBride, Jay Baruchel, James Franco, and Craig Robinson, who managed to save themselves from the apocalyptic earthquake that interrupted the Hollywood party they were at, are confronted by something they have never seen before and are trying to figure out a way of escaping from it.

When Jay Baruchel was picked up at the Los Angeles airport by his close friend and fellow Canadian Seth Rogen, he was disappointed to learn that instead of unwinding, they were going to a housewarming party at James Franco’s mansion where a lot of celebrities would be in attendance. Despite having achieved his own measure of success, low-key Jay still lives in Montreal, in part to avoid such shallow Hollywood gatherings.

Upon their arrival, he awkwardly exchanges pleasantries with the host and Jonah Hill, both of whom he secretly suspects hate him. Furthermore, he’s overwhelmed to find himself surrounded by so many famous people whom he’s never seen in person before, icons that include Kevin Hart, Channing Tatum, Jason Segel, Emma Watson, and Mindy Kaling, to name a few.

Jay also feels uncomfortable about the liquor, drugs, and bawdy behavior. Such as when Craig Robinson sits down at the piano to sing a tune called “Take Your Panties Off,” while wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the same phrase.

However, all of the above becomes irrelevant when an earthquake registering 9.7 on the Richter scale rocks the city and rips a giant fissure right in front of Franco’s place. The guests scatter in all directions as a widening sinkhole starts to swallow some of the revelers at the same time that blue beams of light lift others heavenward.

Meanwhile, James, Jay, Seth, Emily, Craig, and Jonah barricade themselves inside to await rescue. Eventually it dawns on them that the cavalry might never be coming, since what’s unfolding all across Los Angeles looks more like Judgment Day than the result of an earthquake.

Thus unfolds This Is the End, a zany apocalyptic comedy that is the directorial debut of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the writing team responsible for Superbad and Pineapple Express. This novel adventure proves to be every bit as side-splitting as their earlier work, and much of the inspired humor is due to the actors who are willing to be the butt of the joke while playing themselves.

Excellent (****). R for crude humor, coarse sexuality, graphic nudity, drug use, violence, and pervasive profanity. Running time: 107 minutes. Distributor: Columbia Pictures

June 12, 2013

book Thomas Wolfebooks henry millerThe largest and most unknown continent of all is Brooklyn. You can say that I’ve gone out into the wilderness five hundred times armed with a trusty map, now worn to tatters, and have prowled about, exploring the place in the dark hours of the night as not even Stanley explored Africa in his search for Dr Livingstone.

—Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938)

It can also be said that the man with the map — a writer of immense, notoriously verbose novels — summed up the story of his writing life in a six-page monologue about someone attempting to do the impossible. The situation described in Thomas Wolfe’s letter of December 11, 1933, from 5 Montague Terrace in Brooklyn Heights, is the subject of “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn” (1935), a story told in a Brooklynese dialect in which the 6’6 Wolfe is the “big guy” with the map asking a Brooklynite how to get to Eighteenth Avenue and Sixty-second Street. In the letter, the prosaic statement, “The Brooklyn people boast that you can live here a lifetime and never get to know their town,” becomes the story’s punchline, “It’d take a guy a lifetime to know Brooklyn t’roo an’ t’roo. An’ even den, yuh wouldn’t know it all.”

Williamsburg Surprise

Brooklyn’s on my mind after three hours wandering around Williamsburg while my son attacked acres of used LPs in the Academy Records warehouse on North 6th Street. I’ve never looked forward to these Brooklyn visits, thanks to past misadventures driving across the Williamsburg Bridge. Not even the knowledge that the saxophone colossus Sonny Rollins used the bridge’s walkway as a practice space during his sabbatical in 1959-61 could soften the blow of being shunted onto the vehicular Russian Roulette of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway or airhorn-blasted into a near-fatal panic by a tailgating truck.

What a difference a book makes. Take my copy of the 1938 Obelisk Press/Paris edition of Henry Miller’s Black Spring, the pages yellowed and brittle and drenched with atmosphere, as much a place as a book, the opening chapter, “The 14th Ward,” bearing an in-your-face epigraph, “What is not in the open street is false, derived, that is to say, literature.” It’s Henry Miller all the way, still feeling the creative headwind that produced the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, he’s asking no questions, he’s got no map in his hand, he’s grabbing your arm, you can almost hear his Brooklyn accent, “I am a patriot — of the 14th Ward, where I was raised. The rest of the country doesn’t exist for me, except as an idea, or history, or literature.”

So why am I excited? Why has Williamsburg suddenly become a desirable destination in spite of the dreaded crossing? Because just around the corner from Academy Records is the house Henry Miller grew up in. I’m in the 14th Ward. Whatever they may call it these days, it’s his ward. No longer do I have to kill three hours in a place without a single inspirational association. I knew Miller had lived in Brooklyn, I’ve heard recordings, he may not be as extreme with his “t’roo and t’roos” as the character in Wolfe’s story, but you know where he’s coming from. I’d always assumed he grew up in one of those far-flung spots on Wolfe’s tattered map, like Bushwick, Myrtle Avenue, or the street where 13-year-old Henry’s life was changed one day when a book peddler sold him what he thought was a cops-and-robbers penny dreadful called Crime and Punishment by some Russian writer with an unpronounceable last name. In Black Spring, “It was exactly five minutes past seven, at the corner of Broadway and Kosciusko Street, when Dostoievski first flashed across my horizon.”

As soon as I dropped my son off at Academy, I walked a few short blocks and found myself face to face with Henry Miller’s boyhood home, which is still standing at 662 Driggs Avenue, a modest three-story red-brick building with a whole block to itself. My guess is Miller would be glad to know that no historical marker has been hammered in place next to the painted-over shop windows on the ground floor. Here it is, as he writes in Black Spring, “The house wherein I passed the most important years of my life.”

Miller’s house made my day. Out of the labyrinth of streets that fascinated and challenged and submerged Thomas Wolfe, here’s the place where Miller, “born and raised in the street,” began living the book of his life: “To be born in the street means to wander all your life, to be free. It means accident and incident, drama and movement. It means above all dream.” And across the way, still there, is the “ideal street,” Filmore Place, described in Tropic of Capricorn: “Ideal for a boy, a lover, a maniac, a drunkard, a crook, a lecher, a thug, an astronomer, a musician, a poet, a tailor, a shoemaker, a politician.”

Perhaps it all comes down to attitude. In his own way, Miller, like Wolfe, attempted the impossible, but he never asked for directions. He found his voice in an attitude of joyous rhetorical arrogance of which Brooklyn native/resident Norman Mailer writes, “one has to take English back to Marlowe and Shakespeare before encountering a wealth of imagery equal in intensity.” Though Wolfe was a gifted mimic, as in “Only the Dead Know Brooklyn,” he didn’t live long enough to throw the map away and stand outside himself. William Faulkner’s oft-quoted rationale for ranking Wolfe at the top of his list of writers (he isn’t even on most lists in 2013) concerned the magnitude of the attempt — “his was the most splendid failure. He had tried hardest to take all the experience that he was capable of observing and imagining and put it down in one book, on the head of a pin.”

Working in Brooklyn

Thomas Wolfe was my heroic, word-drunk alter ego the summer I was writing my first novel and riding the 4th Avenue Local from 8th and Broadway in Manhattan into darkest Bay Ridge to work in the office of a hiring hall on the Bush Terminal docks. The best thing about the job was getting to say, at age 18, “Waterfront, Mitchner” every time I picked up the phone. On my way back to the subway each afternoon I had to run the gauntlet of stares and occasional taunts from tough-looking teenagers, male and female, hanging out on stoops (picture the ones in Bruce Davidson’s Brooklyn Gang: Summer 1959). I must have looked like an alien species, a hick from the sticks; at work I was greeted with friendly obscenities (here comes that “blankety-blank Hoo-sher so-and-so”) and kidded mercilessly about the fat love letters from my “little Hoo-sher sweetheart” that I arrived with every morning and read on coffee breaks. Among my co-workers was a sadistic, foul-mouthed ex-cop who delighted in tormenting the other non-Brooklynite, a timid Danish-American in his fifties who lived in a cheap hotel in lower Manhattan and rode the subway home with me every day miserably bemoaning his lot because of the way the ex-cop and the other people in the office harrassed him.

Crane’s Bridge

Two summers later when my first novel was published, complete with Wolfian cliches (“The rivers flowed”), I was staying on the top floor of a friend’s State Street brownstone in “dah Heights.” On hot summer evenings we would walk to the Promenade to admire the view of the towers of lower Manhattan, passing on the way Wolfe’s Montague Terrace residence (W.H. Auden lived in the same block five years later). Another Heights resident, poet Hart Crane, described the effect of the view soon after moving into the “quiet and charming” neighborhood in 1924: “It is particularly fine to feel the greatest city in the world from enough distance, as I do here, to see its larger proportions.” In another letter, he speaks of living “in the shadow” of the subject of his most famous poem, “The Bridge” (“It was in the evening darkness of its shadow that I started the last part of that poem”). Crane called the Brooklyn Bridge not only “the most beautiful in the world” but “the most superb piece of construction.” He didn’t know at the time that he was writing his poem in the room once inhabited by the bridge’s designer, Washington Roebling.

Whitman Opens His Arms

In the summer of 1878, some 50 years before Crane moved into the house on Columbia Heights, Brooklyn’s single most compelling literary figure was gazing beyond “the grand obelisk-like towers” of the then-unfinished bridge to “the grandest physical habitat and surroundings of land and water the globe affords — namely, Manhattan island and Brooklyn, which the future shall join in one city.”

While Wolfe made a subject of the impossibility of fathoming Brooklyn, Walt Whitman simply opened his arms and took it all in and all America with it, writing in the preamble to his first self-published song of himself, “Without effort and without exposing in the least how it is done the greatest poet brings the spirit of any or all events and passions and scenes and persons some more and some less to bear on your individual character as you hear or read. To do this well is to compete with the laws that pursue and follow time.”

Turn back to the title page and all you see is Leaves of Grass in massive letters and under it no publisher, no author, only this boldly printed evidence of time and place:

Brooklyn, New York: 1855.

On the facing page there he is, the sparsely bearded poet, sketched in an attitude of no-nonsense intensity, eyeing you, daring you to take the plunge, one hand in the pocket of his corduroy trousers, other arm bent, shirt open at the throat, dark undershirt showing at the top, hat at an angle, worn by a man who contains multitudes.

PRINCETON PHOTOGRAPHERS: Carl H. Geisler’s “Window” from his series “Into the Sky: Gehry at Bard,” is among works by members of the Princeton Photography Club in the inaugural exhibition, “A Point of View,” at a new gallery space opening this Thursday, June 13, with a reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, One Hamilton Health Place, Hamilton. For more information, visit rwjhamil ton.org. For more about the Princeton Photography Club, visit princetonphotoclub.org.

PRINCETON PHOTOGRAPHERS: Carl H. Geisler’s “Window” from his series “Into the Sky: Gehry at Bard,” is among works by members of the Princeton Photography Club in the inaugural exhibition, “A Point of View,” at a new gallery space opening this Thursday, June 13, with a reception from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, One Hamilton Health Place, Hamilton. For more information, visit rwjhamil
ton.org. For more about the Princeton Photography Club, visit princetonphotoclub.org.

Local photographers will showcase their work and inaugurate a new gallery space dedicated to the photographic arts when the exhibition “A Point of View” opens this Thursday, June 13, at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Hamilton. An opening reception will take place from 5:30 to 7 p.m.

The exhibition, a collaboration between the hospital and the Princeton Photography Club, will feature five full series selected from the works of the club’s members: “Curves of Steel” by Lillian Ciuffreda, “Into the Sky: Gehry at Bard” by Carl H. Giesler, “Musicians” by Simon Laufer, “Yesterday’s Papers: The Human Condition” by Maia Reim, and “Cannas in Black and White” by Martha Weintraub.

Also on view will be individual photographs by India Blake, Randy Koslo, Mary Leck, Valerie Chaucer-Levine, Sandra Shapiro, Pat Steo, Serge Trigoubovich, and J. Verni.

The Lakefront Gallery was developed with the guidance of photographer and RWJ Hamilton cardiologist Ilya Genin, MD, and Sheila Geisler, who curated this first exhibition. It is managed by Diane Grillo, vice president of marketing and communications at RWJ Hamilton. The gallery space, which is ADA-accessible, is on the first floor of the hospital along the mezzanine above the Roma Bank Café.

Designed as a not-for-profit dedicated to emerging artists to whom it provides space at no charge, the new gallery hopes to encourage experimentation and creativity. The idea is to provide exposure for local artists as well as to enrich the hospital environment by bringing original artwork to the walls of the hospital. Curator Sheila Geisler is happy to consider new photographic art of all kinds.

The new gallery shares a kindred philosophy with the Princeton Photography Club. Founded by a small group of photographers in 1982, the Club promotes artistic excellence while helping its members gain expertise in photographic techniques. Its nearly 300 photographers range from veteran professionals to beginners. “It has been my privilege to be president of the club for the past six years,” said Carl H. Geisler. “What a delight to have seen the club grow and the quality of images soar.”

The club meets regularly at the D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center. During the past few years it has hosted talks by invited photographers the likes of Amy Arbus, Larry Fink, Emmet Gowen, Seward Johnson, Stephen Perloff, Mary Louise Pierson, Jeff Rotman, Ernestine Ruben, and George Tice.

In addition, the club hosts workshops throughout the year, led by experts and by members with particular knowledge and skills in the areas of introductory and advanced camera techniques, color management and composition, image editing, documentary photography, matting and framing, and more.

Dr. Genin offers monthly workshops and Ricardo Barros gives two sequential six-session courses in creativity, in which he explores what makes a creative photograph. Each level has a waiting list as word of mouth has spread and class size is limited.

“A Point of View” is at the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, One Hamilton Health Place, Hamilton. For more information, visit rwjhamilton.org. To submit work for consideration, contact gallery curator Sheila Geisler at (732) 422-3676 or sgeisler@rci.rutgers.edu. For more about the Princeton Photography Club, visit princetonphotoclub.org.

The Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra (GPYO) finished the 2012-13 season by showcasing two of the ensembles of the orchestra’s expansive program as well as a guest vocal soloist and a winner of the GPYO-sponsored concerto competition, all part of the opening concert of this year’s Princeton Festival. Like most GPYO performances, the concert Saturday night at Richardson Auditorium included shorter pieces and movements from larger orchestral works, but the selection of overtures, vocal airs, and symphonic movements delighted the audience and gave the graduating seniors from the ensemble the opportunity to go out on a high note.

GPYO’s season this year included a record level of participation in the four ensembles which make up their program, as well as a concert at Carnegie Hall. The Youth Orchestra, and in particular its spring concert, has maintained a strong history with the Princeton/ Pettoranello Sister City connection, and the concert Saturday night paid tribute with Neapolitan songs performed by guest tenor Jon Darios. Mr. Darios, a well-established and accomplished singer and actor, performed a lively art song of Rossini and three selections from the early 20th century with animation and keen excitement, even if overpowered by the GPYO Symphonic Orchestra in the first half of the concert. The Rossini “La Danza” and spirited rendition of “Funiculi, Funicula” (without which no Neapolitan vocal evening would be complete) were accompanied by a more restrained orchestral backing, making the words much crisper and the spirit of the songs more clear. Throughout all the vocal selections, both orchestra and soloist handled teasing rubatos well, with clean swirling winds especially marking the Francesco Paolo Tosti air toward the beginning of the program.

Symphonic Orchestra conductor Kawika Kahalehoe began the evening with the exuberant playing of the overture to Rossini’s opera La Gazza Ladra. Clean and subtle playing could be heard from a large brass section, with the strings coming to life in the second part of the overture. A trio of crisp flutes and solos from oboist Heeyoung Park contrasted the lean string sound, as well as exceptional piccolo playing from Sarah Gift, especially in the extreme upper register of the instrument. Rossini overtures always have a bit of mischievous humor, which the Symphonic Orchestra was able to find.

The GPYO Concert Orchestra, conducted by Dr. Arvin Gopal, demonstrated a more contained sound than the Symphonic Orchestra, with a nice light sectional string sound in Rossini’s overture to The Barber of Seville. The familiar second half of the overture erred on the side of musical care rather than brisk tempo, but still achieved drama, aided by horn, clarinet, and bassoon solos. Dr. Gopal bravely led the Concert Orchestra through the tricky Jupiter movement of Gustav Holst’s The Planets, beginning in a sprightly tempo with crisp brass and decisive strokes by the strings, and lavishly playing through the familiar “I Vow to Thee, my Country” hymn. The Concert Orchestra also found lightness and melody in an overture to Richard Wagner’s Rienzi, effectively opened by a trumpet lead from Andrew Hill.

The star of the second half of the concert was clearly Dallas Noble, a thirteen-year-old violinist who was a winner of the GPYO Concerto Competition. Her selection of Edouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole was no easy task, made even more remarkable by the fact that she played with the orchestra in all the other pieces on the program, rather than sit and wait her turn to solo. Ms. Noble is clearly serious about her music, as the violin solo reached high into the instrument’s register from the start. She was clearly in control of the music, finding passion, lyricism, and sweetness in the one-movement piece, while the Symphonic Orchestra provided some of its cleanest playing of the evening. A ten-year veteran of the violin and currently a student at the prestigious Settlement Music School, Ms. Noble clearly has a future with this instrument and will no doubt be winning more competitions in the future.

The 53rd Annual Spring Concert of the Greater Princeton Youth Orchestra was the opening event of The Princeton Festival, which is presenting concerts throughout the month in venues around Princeton. More information about The Princeton Festival and its schedule of performances and workshops can be obtained by visiting www.princ
etonfestival.org.

Art All Night, in the Roebling Wire Rope Factory, 675 South Clinton Avenue, Trenton, starts Saturday, June 15 at 3 p.m. and runs through the following day. Visit artworkstrenton.org for more information.

Art Times Two Gallery, Princeton Brain and Spine Care, 731 Alexander Road, presents photos by Eileen Hohmuth-Lemonick and Kris Giacobbe, titled “REPORT: Providing Health Care Where Basic Needs are Unmet” through November. View by appointment. Call (609) 203-4622.

Artists’ Gallery, 18 Bridge Street, Lambertville, has “Sunshine & Joy,” paintings by Douglas Sardo and Joe Kazimierczyk through June 30. A closing reception is June 30, 3-5 p.m. Visit lambertvillearts.com.

Artworks, 19 Everett Alley, Trenton, “Unchained, the Bike Art Show” through June 13. The show explores the intersection of art and bike culture. Visit www.art
workstrenton.org.

Arts Council of Princeton, Paul Robeson Center, 102 Witherspoon Street, has “Neighborhood Portrait: Documenting the Witherspoon-Jackson Community” on permanent exhibit. “Mimesis,” curated by Thaddeus Erdahl with works by regional ceramics artists, runs through June 15. www.artscouncilofprinceton.org.

College of New Jersey Art Gallery, Pennington Road, Ewing Township, presents “Art, Innovation and Ideas,” a juried K-12 exhibition through June 23 including work by students from all over the state. Artist Faith Ringgold is among the jurors.

D&R Greenway, 1 Preservation Place, has “Dangerous Blossoms,” a mixed-media exhibit, through July 19. Visit www.drgreenway.org.

Ellarslie, Trenton’s City Museum in Cadwalader Park, Parkside Avenue, Trenton, presents the Delaware Valley Fine Crafts Invitational and “Memories of Warsaw,” paintings and drawings by Kyle Hamilton, June 15-July 28. “Trenton Entourage Motors ‘Round the World in 1909” is June 15-September 22. The opening reception for all three shows is June 22, 7-9 p.m. A fine craft demonstration by Joyce Inderbitzin and Geoffrey Noden is July 14, 2 p.m. (609) 989-1191.

Firestone Library at Princeton University, has “Your True Friend and Enemy: Princeton and the Civil War” in the Mudd Manuscript Library through July 31. “A Republic in the Wilderness: Treasures of American History from Jamestown to Appomattox” is on view through August.

Gallery 14, 14 Mercer Street, Hopewell, has “Look Again” by Rhoda Kassof-Isaac, “Into the Garden” by Martha Weintraub, and “Colors of Iceland” by Wiebke Martens” through July 7. Visit photogallery14.com.

Gourgaud Gallery, Town Hall, Cranbury, has “Spring Splash,” works by Watercolorists Unlimited, through June 30.

Grounds for Sculpture, Fairgrounds Road in Hamilton, has Ming Fay’s “Canutopia” in the East Gallery through July. In the Meadow, “THRE3” and “MYTHOS” are on view. Visit www.groundsforsculp
ture.org.

Historical Society of Princeton, Bainbridge House, 158 Nassau Street, has photographs from its collection in the Princeton Pride Gallery. “We Love Princeton: Stories from the Street” and “Einstein at Home” are also on view. For more information visit www.princetonhistory.org.

The James A. Michener Art Museum at 138 South Pine Street in Doylestown, Pa., has “Transformations II: Works in Steel by Karl Stirner” through June 16. “Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song” is on view through September 29. “Nelson Shanks: A Brush with Reality” is exhibited through September 8. “Harry Bertola: Structure and Sound” is on view July 20-October 13. Visit www.michenerart
museum.org.

Jane, 7 Spring Street, hosts “The James McPhillips Museum and Gift Shop Show” through June 14.

The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, 71 Hamilton Street, on the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick, has “Lynd Ward Draws Stories: Inspired by Mexico’s History, Mark Twain, and Adventures in the Woods” through June 23. “Henri-Gabriel Ibels” is exhibited through September 8. Works by Russian artist Leonid Sokov are displayed through July 14. “Stars: Contemporary Prints by Derriere L’Etoile Studio” is on view through September 29. “Leningrad’s Perestroika: Crosscurrents in Photography, Video, and Music” is on view through September 13.

Lawrence Library, 2751 Brunswick Pike, shows Robert Allard’s pen and ink and pencil drawings through June 30. A reception is June 15, 1-4 p.m. Visit mcl.org.

Morpeth Contemporary, 43 West Broad Street, Hopewell, presents paintings by Ann O’Connor, titled “reverie,” through June 15.

Morven Museum & Garden, 55 Stockton Street, shows “Coastal Impression, Painters of the Jersey Shore, 1880-1940” through September 29. Visit www.morven.org.

New Hope Arts Center, 2 Stockton Avenue, New Hope, Pa., has the Artsbridge 19th Annual Juried Show through June 29 (Fridays-Sundays, 1-5 p.m.). In the “A” Space, “don’t mention the WAR,” recent work by Linda Guenste, is on view through July 3. Visit www.artsbridgeonline.com.

New Jersey State Museum, 205 West State Street, Trenton, has “The Re-Connection Project: Endangered Birds of New Jersey” through July 15. Visit statemuseum.nj.gov.

Prallsville Mill, Sawmill Gallery, 33 Risler Street, Route 29, Stockton, has artworks by Lucy Graves McVicker and Charles McVicker through June 15. A reception is Saturday, June 15, 3-5 p.m.

Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street, has in it’s second floor gallery a Drip Art Series by members of the Arctists Collective. A reception is June 14, 6-9 p.m. It is sponsored by The Arc Mercer. www.arcmercer.org.

Princeton Theological Seminary’s Erdman Gallery, 20 Library Place, exhibits works by master iconographers and apprentices of the Prosopon School through June 30.

The Princeton University Art Museum “Picturing Power: Capitalism, Democracy, and American Portraiture” is on view through June 30. “1913: The Year of Modernism” is on display through June 23. From June 29-September 15, “Shared Vision: The Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla Collection of Photography” is exhibited. “American Prospects: 19th Century City Views by William James Bennett” is shown through July 14. Museum hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Call (609) 258-3788.

Small World Coffee, 14 Witherspoon Street, has “Away We Go,” a group exhibition by Art+10, through July 2.

Straube Center, 1 Straube Center Boulevard, Pennington, shows Jay McClellan’s “Tip, Honey & Lucky-Bold Barks” paintings through June 14. Visit www.straubecenter.com.

Triumph Brewery, 138 Nassau Street, has works by Jordana Scheer through June 22.

Two-Nineteen Gallery, 219 East Hanover Street, Trenton, presents “Emerging Artist Exhibition” through July 6. The opening reception is June 14, 6-10 p.m.

Veridian Gallery, 43 South Main Street, Pennington, has recent watercolors by Linda Bradshaw through June 29.

West Windsor Arts Center, 952 Alexander Road, West Windsor, exhibits “WW33: Full Circles,” by artists aged 13-33, through June 15. From June 15-July 20, “Full Circles/Painters Circle” shows the work of older artists. The opening reception is June 23, 4-6 p.m.  (609) 716-1931.

I KNOW I CAN FLY DOWN THERE AND FIX IT, DAD: A youthful Superman (Dylan Sprayberry, right) reassures his anxious father (Kevin Costner) that, thanks to his extraordinary super powers, he can solve the potential disaster they are looking at.

I KNOW I CAN FLY DOWN THERE AND FIX IT, DAD: A youthful Superman (Dylan Sprayberry, right) reassures his anxious father (Kevin Costner) that, thanks to his extraordinary super powers, he can solve the potential disaster they are looking at.

For my generation, Superman was “a strange visitor from another planet” who was “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound“ who was engaged in “a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American way.” However, in this age of information, audiences want to know a lot more about a superhero’s history.

Also, what passed for special effects on the original TV show were cheesy flying sequences in which support wires were plainly visible. And the fight scenes generally ended when the bumbling villain with little imagination ran out of bullets and threw his pistol at the Man of Steel’s chest in sheer frustration.

Over the years, Superman has been revived twice on television (Lois & Clark and Smallville) and five times on the big screen. This sixth film version stars Henry Cavill in the title role opposite Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Laurence Fishburne as a black Perry White, and Rebecca Buller as Jenny (not Jimmy) Olsen.

Director Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead) undertook Man of Steel as a remake of the series, because plans are already in the works for the character to reappear in an adaptation of DC Comics’ Justice League scheduled for 2015. Thus, this movie devotes considerable attention to an explanation of Superman’s roots.

The picture opens on the planet Krypton where we find the parents (Crowe and Ayelet Zurer) of the planet’s first naturally-conceived child in centuries, secretly sending their newborn in an unmanned spaceship headed to Earth. This development doesn’t sit well with genetic engineer General Zod (Michael Shannon), a megalomaniac in charge of deciding which of Krypton’s bloodlines are allowed to continue, and this baby’s family definitely isn’t one of them.

The rocket crash-lands in the cornfields of Jonathan (Kevin Costner) and Martha Kent (Diane Lane), a kindly couple who proceed to raise the baby as their own. Of course, Clark isn’t like other boys, and he does his best to harness and hide his superpowers, although they occasionally come in handy like when he rescues a school bus full of students that’s sinking in a river.

The plot thickens when aliens arrive from Krypton in order to eliminate Superman. Not surprisingly, they’re led by the diabolical Zod, who proceeds to commandeer the mass media, spouting typical invasion threats warning the “People of Earth” that resistance is futile. But, he hasn’t taken into account Superman.

At this juncture, the action the kids have been waiting for finally kicks into high gear, with a spectacular battle replete with dizzying technical wizardry and acrobatic dexterity that mercifully reduces the pretentious dialogue that is laced with pseudo-scientific babble. Ultimately, good, and the American way, triumph over evil, and Superman is left alive to defend truth and justice in upcoming sequels and spinoffs.

Very Good (***). Rated PG-13 for profanity, violence, and intense action sequences. Running time: 143 minutes. Distributor: Warner Brothers.

June 5, 2013

dvd revThe first real summer vacation I ever had was two and a half months in Europe with a student tour called the Golden Bear. I picked that particular tour because it was the only one that went to Vienna and Berlin, two cities that had aroused my interest because of the rich post-war atmosphere of Carol Reed and Graham Greene’s classic European thriller The Third Man starring Orson Welles in the title role.

When the Golden Bear powers-that-be cancelled the Berlin visit and feebly attempted to make up for it with a few extra days in Switzerland, I thought of the moment in The Third Man when after cynically justifying his immoral doings on the black market, Welles’s Harry Lime says: “In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

Flying

The first leg of the tour was from Amsterdam to Hamburg to Copenhagen to Stockholm to Oslo, where our bipolar tour conductor — a South African anti-apartheid exile with a DPhil from Oxford in political philosophy — was hauled off screaming to a hospital by the Oslo police. We made it back to Hamburg and a new guide on our own, don’t ask me how. After stops in Heidelberg and Rothenberg, we arrived in Munich, which is where we first heard “Volare,” joy set to music, the song of the summer.

“Volare” offered a subliminal release to those of us who were still feeling the aftershock of the tour leader’s breakdown. You couldn’t just hear it, you had to sing it, as we did at a night club in Schwabing, the student quarter, where a red-jacketed band had been playing exotic items like “See You Later Alligator.” I didn’t even know what I was singing at first. I thought it was a girl’s name, “Oh Lolly.” The meaning didn’t matter. Everyone was singing this song, whether or not they knew the Italian lyrics. Soon enough we knew all you needed to know, the chorus, “Vo-lare,” sung as if your heart was soaring, followed by joy-sounds, oh-ho, then “Can-tare,” Italian for singing, drawn out to the last measure of musical devotion, then more happy, happy Oh-oh-oh-oh-ho’s, then, “Nel blue di pinto di blu” (the formal title), which I never bothered to translate, figuring, as most people did, that it refers to the blue sky you’re flying into on the wings of the song we were still singing as we walked back to the hotel from the club. It seemed to come out of nowhere, an infusion of pure melody, musical nitrous oxide, for you’re already almost laughing with the sheer exhilaration of singing it. The following night “Volare” was being sung in the beer halls, we were dancing to it, making up our own words in pidgin Italian. Every summer should have such a song. A summer anthem.

“Volare” was an international sensation, a preview of what the Beatles would accomplish on the grand scale in the sixties and ABBA in the seventies. Not until now, all these years later, do I find that a song that seemed little more than love-drunk hyperbole is about the singer painting his hands and face blue before being swept up by the wind and flying off in the infinite sky (“cielo infinito”). Like Coleridge waking from an opium dream to compose “Kubla Khan,” Franco Migliacci is said to have awakened from a wine-drunk nightmare to find his lyric in two Chagall prints on the wall of his room, one in which a yellow man is suspended in midair, another where half the painter’s face is blue. Putting the lyrics together with Dominic Modugno’s tune took several days. According to Modugno’s wife, the key word “volare” was inspired by a storm suddenly blowing open a window.

Tour in Free Fall

As the incident in Oslo suggests, my first European summer was not all about “Volare.” For some of my companions on the tour, there was Mitch Miller’s catchy, impossible-not-to-whistle-along-with “River Kwai March (Colonel Bogey)” from the then-recent film, The Bridge on the River Kwai. The first time our tall, shambling, twitchy, hyper, bird-like tour leader took his position in the front of an Amsterdam tour bus, a summer-camp-sing-along epidemic spread among us, set off when someone began singing the “River Kwai March” using his first name, “Rob-in, he makes the tour go round, Rob-in, dum-da-dum-dum-dum,” and so forth. What followed was only a spontaneous, good-natured, playful, typically American serenade that any normal, reasonably sound-of-mind-and-body person in the tour guide role would find amusing and harmless, a sign of friendly acceptance from his charges. But the summer campers of the Golden Bear sang or chanted the chorus incessantly even as it became clear, at least to those of us who had begun to know him, that Robin was an accident waiting to happen.

By the time of the overnight train from Copenhagen to Stockholm, those of us Robin had taken into his confidence were aware that he was in psychic free fall and that the jaunty ditty sung in his name had become the mocking theme song of his madness. We tried to alert the others to tone down the he’s-a-jolly-good fellow stuff. By then the situation should have been obvious if only from the way he periodically stamped his feet and shouted in his South African BBC accent, “I am NOT a tour leader! I am a courier!” This was around the time, perhaps due to the incessant singing, that he began outlining his plan for us to become traveling entertainers, a troupe to be known, what else, as The Golden Bears (“We shall sing for our supper!”). He wrote a song of his own for us that began, “We are ze Europins of ze Golden Bear, Ve haf Stars und Strawdust in R hair.”

On the night train to Oslo, using an umbrella that he called a bumbershoot, he began attacking some of the more insistent chanters of the “River Kwai March.” At the student hostel in Oslo no one was singing as we stood watching from the doorways of our rooms while the police led him down the corridor howling his “I am a courier” mantra. Fifteen years later someone in Bristol who had read Robin’s book Drop Out! told me that he had died “in a doss-house fire.”

“The Third Man Theme”

Online it’s claimed that Dominic Modugno’s recording of “Volare” spent five weeks in first place on the Billboard Top 100 chart in the summer of 1958. Nine years earlier, between April and July of 1949, the zither player Anton Karras’s Decca recording of “The Third Man Theme” spent 11 weeks atop the Billboard chart. It’s amusing to find that the mysterious, atmospheric music from the movie that led me to choose the tour for its Vienna-Berlin feature actually outsold the feel-good anthem that lifted the spirits of the shellshocked Golden Bears in the aftermath of our leader’s breakdown.

Karras’s haunting music and Third Man cinematographer Robert Krasker’s dramatically lit, mood-drenched visions of nocturnal Vienna streetscapes created the European post-war-noir excitement I found in long walks through the streets of Hamburg and Munich and above all Vienna, where our hotel, the Urania, was only 15 minutes from the Prater and the giant ferris wheel that provides the setting for the film’s most famous scene. Except for the chase through the sewers at the end, and the electric moment when we first see the mysterious back-from-the-dead “third man” discovered in a dark doorway by a brief flash of light, Orson Welles’s unforgettable performance as a charming scoundrel named Harry Lime is played out in his meeting at the Prater with his old college pal and writer of pulp westerns, Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton). I was about to say the scene is among Welles’s finest hours, except that barely six minutes pass from the moment Holly spots a small dark figure approaching from the distance to the goodbye moment of the “cuckoo clock” speech, which Welles wrote himself.

Once the two men are in the closed carriage of the moving ferris wheel, Carol Reed and Graham Greene play second fiddle to the aura and ambience of Welles, actor and director and personality. While the idea that he had a hand in the direction of the picture has been laid to rest, anyone who knows his work will recognize the way the voices jar and jostle one another in a void; the play of expression on Lime’s face from sly to sinister to dyspeptic to a hollow heartiness, the breezy cynicism with which he justifies his villainy when he tells Cotton to look at the people down below, asking, “Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever?”

That question and the notion that evil could be charming or fascinating in itself caught me up when I first saw the film as a child and again after a recent viewing of the brilliantly remastered Criterion DVD. For all the pleasures of that long-ago summer, there’s no forgetting the screaming man in Oslo or the reality behind the aesthetic excitement of the ruined buildings, bombed out vistas, and haunted faces of the Third Man’s Vienna

Summer Romance

As the tour unfolded, Italy outshone everything else. The essence of a summer dream vacation was a mixture of the mindless joy of “Volare” with the poetry of Fellini’s La Strada, a film that eventually meant even more to me than The Third Man (for one thing, I became hopelessly infatuated with a girl on the tour who resembled Giuletta Messina’s mystic gamin, Gelsomina). The Third Man evoked wartime and intrigue, while the emotional fanfare of LaStrada complemented the sheer joy of “Volare.” But then who could imagine that Harry Lime himself would show up later that summer at a production of Puccini’s Turandot at the Baths of Carcacalla? There he was sitting five rows in front of us, no way you could miss him, Orson Welles ten years down the road from his death in the sewers of Vienna, big and bearded and surrounded by beautiful women.

Finally, any dissertation on the subject of dream summer holidays has to include at least a mention of the ultimate summer holiday romance, Before Sunrise. There’s a dream to savor, to meet Julie Delpy on a train to Vienna, to fall in love, and to have your first kiss on the ferris wheel at the Prater. And now after Before Sunset in Paris, here comes Before Midnight in Greece.

In the image from The Third Man shown above, Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton) is waiting at the Prater for his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles).

INTO THE GARDEN: Hopewell’s fine art photography gallery features works by Martha Weintraub, whose “Conservatory,” shown here, is one of several garden images on view. Ms. Weintraub creates hand-colored gel transfers from her photographs to yield whimsical and often surrealistic landscapes. (Image Courtesy of Gallery 14)

INTO THE GARDEN: Hopewell’s fine art photography gallery features works by Martha Weintraub, whose “Conservatory,” shown here, is one of several garden images on view. Ms. Weintraub creates hand-colored gel transfers from her photographs to yield whimsical and often surrealistic landscapes.
(Image Courtesy of Gallery 14)

Photographers Martha Weintraub, Rhoda Kassof-Isaac, and Wiebke Martens feature in a joint exhibition at Hopewell’s fine photography Gallery 14, opening Friday June 7 and running through July 7.

Ms. Weintraub has a series of “Into the Garden” images in the show. “Since the ancient Egyptians, people have been taming the wilderness into spaces reflecting beauty, style, and status,” says Ms. Weintraub, who likens a garden to a work of art “Like painters, garden designers plan perspectives of foreground, middle, and background in their compositions. Designs thus express more than the flowers, trees, shrubs, and water features they may include; history and geography influence design; European and American gardens differ from the gardens of the Far East, which value irregularity and surprise.”

Ms. Weintraub approaches her photography as if it were painting rather than a record of reality. In Photoshop she often improvises, combining and modifying different elements to create a composition. Some of her work is whimsical and surrealistic with imaginary and colorful landscapes, while other work is sensitive consisting of lovely botanical renditions. In either case the viewer is invited to immerse oneself in quiet contemplation.

She has visited many gardens near her home and in travels abroad. For her garden images, she creates hand-colored gel transfers, post computer. She begins by taking photographs, which she then converts to black and white positives and prints on transfer film. Using a gel medium and a roller, she transfers the positives to artist’s water color paper and then hand-colors each image using water color pencils and acrylic paints.

The results are impressions of gardens, not literal translations. Her work is reminiscent of illustrations found in 19th century English literature, etchings, and Chinese and Japanese wood block prints.

Ms. Weintraub’s photographs have been chosen for a number of local and national juried shows. Her image City of Books was awarded Best in Show at Phillips’ Mill Annual Photography Exhibit in 2012. She is the current president of Gallery 14 and her work can be viewed at: www.martha
weintraub.com.

Both painter and photographer, Ms. Kassof-Isaac is a founding member of Gallery 14 and has been inspired by the group’s growth and reputation. “This gallery is a place where professional photographers gather to discuss, share, and explore the new directions that the art of photography is moving toward. Inspiration thrives, grows, and is content in this atmosphere,” she says. The collection of her works on show is titled “Look Again.”

Of the relationship between painting and photography in her work, she says; “Is this like having two languages? The two media speak with each other and offer greater inspiration.”

Ms. Kassof-Isaac is also a teacher and a psychoanalyst. She has lived in Switzerland and Italy for many years. Her photographic work is enhanced by painting on each image.

Ms. Martens has been fascinated by photography ever since receiving her first camera at age 12 and concentrated on travel and landscape when she grew up.

In recent years, she has significantly expanded the scope of her work, exploring the great variety of textures, patterns, and colors in nature.

Last year, on a tour of Iceland, she was captivated by the landscapes, from farm houses in lush, green, pastoral settings to surreal black tuff ring volcanoes. Looking closely, she discovered small flowers covering an orange rock face, algae growing on stones like hair, and beautiful basalt formations. Her images capture the contrasting colors of Iceland. Her collection “Colors of Iceland” is in Gallery 14‘s Goodkind Gallery.

Her work has previously been exhibited at Dalet Gallery in Philadelphia, Art Way Gallery in Plainsboro, and the Bank of Princeton in Lambertville, among others.

For more information and gallery hours, call (609) 333-8511.

Art Times Two Gallery, Princeton Brain and Spine Care, 731 Alexander Road, presents photos by Eileen Hohmuth-Lemonick and Kris Giacobbe, titled “REPORT: Providing Health Care Where Basic Needs are Unmet” through November. View by appointment. Call (609) 203-4622.

Artists’ Gallery, 18 Bridge Street, Lambertville, has “EAT,” a show by photographer John Treichler, through June 9. (609) 397-4588.

Artworks, 19 Everett Alley, Trenton, “Unchained, the Bike Art Show” through June 13. The show explores the intersection of art and bike culture. Visit www.art
workstrenton.org.

Arts Council of Princeton, Paul Robeson Center, 102 Witherspoon Street, has “Neighborhood Portrait: Documenting the Witherspoon-Jackson Community” on permanent exhibit. “Mimesis,” curated by Thaddeus Erdahl with works by regional ceramics artists, runs through June 15. www.artscouncil
ofprinceton.org.

Bernstein Gallery at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, has “Cooking for Change,” photos by Steve Riskind and text by Doris Friedensohn, through June 7.

College of New Jersey Art Gallery, Pennington Road, Ewing Township, presents “Art, Innovation and Ideas,” a juried K-12 exhibition through June 23 including work by students from all over the state. Artist Faith Ringgold is among the jurors.

D&R Greenway, 1 Preservation Place, has “Dangerous Blossoms,” a mixed-media exhibit, through July 19. Visit www.drgreenway.org.

Ellarslie, Trenton’s City Museum in Cadwalader Park, Parkside Avenue, Trenton, presents the Delaware Valley Fine Crafts Invitational and “Memories of Warsaw,” paintings and drawings by Kyle Hamilton, June 15-July 28. “Trenton Entourage Motors ‘Round the World in 1909” is June 15-September 22. The opening reception for all three shows is June 22, 7-9 p.m. A fine craft demonstration by Joyce Inderbitzin and Geoffrey Noden is July 14, 2 p.m. (609) 989-1191.

Firestone Library at Princeton University, has “Your True Friend and Enemy: Princeton and the Civil War” in the Mudd Manuscript Library through July 31. “A Republic in the Wilderness: Treasures of American History from Jamestown to Appomattox” is on view through August.

Gallery 14, 14 Mercer Street, Hopewell, has works by George W. Taylor in July. Visit photogallery14.com.

Gourgaud Gallery, Town Hall, Cranbury, has “Spring Splash,” works by Watercolorists Unlimited, through June 30.

Grounds for Sculpture, Fairgrounds Road in Hamilton, has Ming Fay’s “Canutopia” in the East Gallery through July. In the Meadow, “THRE3” and “MYTHOS” are on view. Visit www.groundsforsculpture.org.

Historical Society of Princeton, Bainbridge House, 158 Nassau Street, has photographs from its collection in the Princeton Pride Gallery. “We Love Princeton: Stories from the Street” and “Einstein at Home” are also on view. For more information visit www.princetonhistory.org.

The James A. Michener Art Museum at 138 South Pine Street in Doylestown, Pa., has “Transformations II: Works in Steel by Karl Stirner” through June 16.  “Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song” is on view through September 29. “Nelson Shanks: A Brush with Reality” is exhibited June 8-September 8. Visit www.
michenerartmuseum.org.

Jane, 7 Spring Street, hosts “The James McPhillips Museum and Gift Shop Show” through June 14.

The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, 71 Hamilton Street, on the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick, has “Lynd Ward Draws Stories: Inspired by Mexico’s History, Mark Twain, and Adventures in the Woods” through June 23. “Henri-Gabriel Ibels” is exhibited through September 8. Works by Russian artist Leonid Sokov are displayed through July 14. “Stars: Contemporary Prints by Derriere L’Etoile Studio” is on view through September 29. “Leningrad’s Perestroika: Crosscurrents in Photography, Video, and Music” is on view through September 13.

Lawrence Library, 2751 Brunswick Pike, shows Robert Allard’s pen and ink and pencil drawings through June 30. A reception is June 15, 1-4 p.m. Visit mcl.org.

Morpeth Contemporary, 43 West Broad Street, Hopewell, presents paintings by Ann O’Connor, titled “reverie,” through June 15.

Morven Museum & Garden, 55 Stockton Street, shows “Coastal Impression, Painters of the Jersey Shore, 1880-1940” through September 29. Visit www.morven.org.

Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street, has in it’s second floor gallery a Drip Art Series by members of the Arctists Collective. A reception is June 14, 6-9 p.m. It is sponsored by The Arc Mercer. www.arcmercer.org.

Princeton Theological Seminary’s Erdman Gallery, 20 Library Place, exhibits works by master iconographers and apprentices of the Prosopon School through June 30.

The Princeton University Art Museum has “Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe” through June 9. “Picturing Power: Capitalism, Democracy, and American Portraiture” is on view through June 30. “1913: The Year of Modernism” is on display through June 23. From June 29-September 15, “Shared Vision: The Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla Collection of Photography” is exhibited. “American Prospects: 19th Century City Views by William James Bennett” is shown through July 14. Museum hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Call (609) 258-3788.

Small World Coffee, 14 Witherspoon Street, has “Away We Go,” a group exhibition by Art+10, through July 2.

Straube Center, 1 Straube Center Boulevard, Pennington, shows Jay McClellan’s “Tip, Honey & Lucky-Bold Barks” paintings through June 14. Visit www.straubecenter.com.

Triumph Brewery, 138 Nassau Street, has works
by Jordana Scheer through June 22.

Veridian Gallery, 43 South Main Street, Pennington, has recent watercolors by Linda Bradshaw through June 29.

West Windsor Arts Center, 952 Alexander Road, West Windsor, exhibits “WW33: Full Circles,” by artists aged 13-33, through June 15. From June 15-July 20, “Full Circles/Painters Circle” shows the work of older artists. The opening reception is June 23, 4-6 p.m. (609) 716-1931.

Witherspoon Hall, 400 Witherspoon Street, will exhibit “A Princeton Mix,” a collage mural by Nancy Shill, with a dedication June 6 from 5-6:30 p.m. Sponsored by the Arts Council of Princeton, the mural is made entirely of materials found or collected in Princeton. Also on view will be collages by students who were in Ms. Shill’s workshops.

THIS IS THE PERFECT PLACE FOR OUR HIDEAWAY!: The three teens, Patrick (Gabriel Basso, left), Biaggio (Moises Arias, center), and Joe (Nick Robinson) have found a clearing in the woods that is the ideal place for them to build a shack so they can run away from their controlling parents for the summer.

THIS IS THE PERFECT PLACE FOR OUR HIDEAWAY!: The three teens, Patrick (Gabriel Basso, left), Biaggio (Moises Arias, center), and Joe (Nick Robinson) have found a clearing in the woods that is the ideal place for them to build a shack so they can run away from their controlling parents for the summer.

Freshman year of high school has just ended for Patrick (Gabriel Basso) who isn’t looking forward to spending the summer under the same roof as his over protective parents (Megan Mullally and Marc Evan Jackson), who monitor his every move and tease him mercilessly about his raging hormones. The situation’s even worse for Joe (Nick Robinson) whose widowed father’s (Nick Offerman) way of grieving involves belittling and grounding Joe at every opportunity.

One night at a party, the best friends come up with a solution to their predicament when they discover a clearing in the middle of the forest. Why not build a house out in the woods where they will be free from the abuse and control of their meddling parents?

Swearing each other to secrecy, they hatch an impromptu plan to live off the land. They are joined in their clandestine endeavor by classmate Biaggio (Moises Arias), a mysterious eccentric contemporary who is willing to help them out.

Next, they’re building a shack out of materials they found on a construction lot, and forage for food by diving into a dumpster behind a restaurant. Meanwhile, their worried parents are calling the poice, convinced that the missing boys have been kidnapped.

That is the point of departure of The Kings of Summer, a quirky comedy that is also the directorial debut of Jordan Vogt-Roberts. His laugh-a-minute adventure is reminiscent of some the best of the rebellious adolescent genre movies, such as Stand by Me (1986), Superbad (2007), Ghost World (2001), Super 8 (2011) and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986).

The picture’s clever script, written by first-timer Chris Galletta, is laced with hilarious scenes such as when Biaggio attempts to throw the police off their trail with a ransom note from the fictitious “Jamal Colorado” inspired by combining a black first name with one of the fifty states. Biaggio’s main role in the film is to provide intermittent comic relief.

The movie is about the trio’s struggle to survive while eluding the search party. The plot thickens with the sudden arrival of Kelly (Erin Moriarty) at their hideaway, a beautiful young woman who Joe is interested in dating.

Will Kelly prove to be the boys’ undoing, or will their bond remain intact? Let’s just say that between memorable performances by a cast of relative newcomers, and a haunting score by Ryan Miller, The Kings of Summer is a sleeper not to be missed.

Excellent (****). Rated R for profanity and underage alcohol consumption. In English and Italian with subtitles. Running time: 95 minutes. Distributor: CBS Films.

May 29, 2013

book rev1Minor miracles are literature’s stock in trade. Thus an English poet who died at 47 in 1599 can change the lives of a stableman’s son in London in 1813, a graduate student at Indiana University in 1944, and a sophomore at the University of California-Berkeley in 1963. The poet whose work enforced the change is Edmund Spenser. The intermediaries include John Keats’s friend and tutor Charles Cowden Clarke, followed some 130 years later by Rudolph Gottfried, editor of the Prose Works for the Variorium Edition of Spenser overseen by A.H. Judson, who wrote the Variorium biography (1945). The last and personally most significant intermediary, and the inspiration for this column, is Renaissance scholar Paul J. Alpers, who died at 80 on Sunday, May 19.

If there were a Mount Rushmore of pre-1700 English literature, Edmund Spenser would have a place up there along with Chaucer, Shakespeare, and Milton. The sculptor would be working in the dark, however, since the elegant Elizabethan face on the cover of Andrew Hadfield’s Edmund Spenser: A Life (2012) is a portrait of “A gentleman said to be Edmund Spenser.” As the biographer himself admits, there is “no reliable image” of the poet, although he clearly has a soft spot in his heart for the “charming print” from English Literature for Boys and Girls that shows Spenser reading something of his to a suavely attentive Sir Walter Raleigh.

Clarke and Keats

According to Robert Gittings’s biography John Keats (1968), it was the 26-year-old C.C. Clarke’s reading of Spenser’s “Epithalamion” to the 18-year-old Keats that struck the “spark” which, in Clarke’s words, “fired the train of Keats’s poetic tendencies.” Keats was “so enchanted” that he took away the first volume of The Faerie Queen that night, and, as Clarke says, “ramped through” it “like a young horse turned into a Spring meadow.” Merely reading “Spring-headed Hydras and sea-shouldering Whales” wasn’t enough for him; according to Clarke, Keats “hoisted himself up, and looked burly and dominant as he repeated the last words.”

In Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s 1819 lecture on The Faerie Queen, the element outside “all particular space or time” that moves short, pugnacious, impressionable young men to mimic horses and whales is viewed in “the domains neither of history or geography” but “truly in land of Faery, that is, of mental space. The poet has placed you in a dream, a charmed sleep, and you neither wish, nor have the power, to inquire where you are, or how you got there.”

Although Keats’s first recorded poem, no surprise, was “Imitation of Spenser,” the Spenserian fancy flows most freely in his early letters along with citings from Shakespeare and other literary forebearers. Keats is still exulting in Spenser’s “Spring meadow,” as when a borrowing of “sun-shine in a shady place” from the first book of the Faerie Queen inspires his “Close to the source, bright, pure, and undefil’d/Whence gush the streams of song.”

The author of The Faerie Queen is all over a verse letter from 1816 to Clarke, with references to “Mulla’s stream” which flows near Spenser’s home in Kilcolman, and allusions to the Faerie Queen’s Belphoebe, Una, Archimago, and, in case you doubt where he’s coming from, “Spenserian vowels that elope with ease,/And float along like birds o’er summer seas.”

By the time he writes to Benjamin Bailey on 13 March 1818, Keats has abandoned “faery land” for an earthier element as he imagines ways to discourage his ailing brother Tom from coming to join him in Devonshire’s “splashy, rainy, misty snowy, foggy, haily floody, muddy slipshod County.” When he does fall back on Spenser, referring to the flowers that “have an Acrasian spell about them,” it’s only to launch another flight of fancy wherein he’s “able to beat off the devonshire waves like soap froth,” which, after references to Julius Caesar, England’s strong Men, and Edmond Ironside’s descendants,” brings him to one of those details his art and character are grounded on: “Scenery is fine — but human nature is finer — The Sward is richer for the tread of a real, nervous english foot.”

book rev2Spenser in Indiana

The Indiana University graduate student whose life was changed by Spenser enjoys reading to his six-year-old son from handsomely decorated and illustrated little books like Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Stories from the Faerie Queen Told to the Children by Jeanie Lang, whose preface claims Edmund Spenser could see Fairyland “more clearly” than other men. In fact, the Indiana campus. made a perfect Fairyland for children living near the lofty limestone castle of the Union Building with its terraces and battlements and balconies for sentries and bowmen, and down below a moat we called the Jordan River, with a “draw bridge” across all two yards of it. A spacious greensward called Dunn Meadow fronted the castle, enriched by the tread of sneaker-footed female students firing arrows at red-blue-yellow bull’s eye targets on sunny afternoons while we staged our own Robin Hood-style tournaments with sticks for swords, riding the same imaginary horses on which we galloped downtown for cowboy-movie Saturday matinees. The campus woods on the other side of the castle were dark and deep with sunny Spenserian glades and “gloomy glens” like the one where Sir Guyon meets Mammon on his way to Merlin’s cave.

In the midst of these woods was the humble single-story building housing the offices and classrooms of the English Department where resident Spenserians Judson and Gottfried taught the courses that helped make a scholar of my father. What specifically lured him into the enchanted forests of academia, however, was Spenser’s The Shepheardes Calender and its mysterious presenter, a personage known only by the initials “E.K.” My father’s mission to determine the identity of E.K., something no one had been able to do in just under 400 years (and to this day, it seems), led to an article for Studies in Philology taking issue with the theory that Spenser himself was E.K. The larger result was the plunge into Medieval studies that made Bloomington our home for the next 30 years. A decade and a half later I was reading The Faerie Queen in Rudolph Gottfried’s senior survey

Spenser at Berkeley

Of the UC Berkeley campus, which was once upon a time even more deeply wooded than Indiana’s, all I remember is the little bridge where my future wife and I sat talking for hours the night we met. Next year her life would be changed, not so much by Spenser as by the teaching of Paul Alpers. Berkeley in the mid-sixties was an exciting place to be. You could cut your political teeth at demonstrations led by Mario Savio; dance to the Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead at the Fillmore in San Francisco; hang out with filmmakers like Ben Van Meter who did the light shows at the Avalon Ballroom; have your math homework done by Phil Lesh of the Dead; and take classes from poets like Thom Gunn, critics like Stanley Fish, Stephen Orgel, Fred Crews of the Pooh Perplex, and celebrity teachers like Edward Teller.

Above and beyond all the political, cultural, and musical excitement was the experience of reading The Faerie Queen for a teacher who made the poem matter so much that you were up all night writing papers (often handed in late) meant to more than meet his expectations. The other teachers went about their business with varying degrees of professionalism. Although Alpers was a tall, imposing presence “from another world,” a graduate of Reuben Brower’s famous Hum 6 course at Harvard, he read and taught and lived Spenser earnestly, wholeheartedly, and unaffectedly. His essay on King Lear had just appeared in Brower and Poirier’s landmark anthology, In Defense of Reading (1963). Four years later Princeton University Press brought out Alpers’s magnum opus, The Poetry of the Faerie Queene. 

That undergraduate course in Spenser was the beginning of a 50 year friendship sharing books and films and MLA conventions. Jeanie Lang’s note at the beginning of Stories from the Faerie Queen says of Edmund Spenser the simple essence of what could be said of Paul Alpers: “He was brave and true and gentle, and loved so dearly all things that are beautiful and all things that are good, that his eyes could see Fairyland more clearly than the eyes of other men ever could.”

Andrew Hadfield’s biography is available at the Princeton Public Library.

PASTORAL PRINCETON: Charles McVicker’s oil painting, “Mustard Field, The Great Road”, will be one of his works on show in the joint exhibit with Lucy Graves McVicker opening with a reception from 3 to 6 p.m. this Sunday, June 2, at the Sawmill Gallery at Prallsville Mills, Route 29, Stockton.(Image Courtesy of the Artist)

PASTORAL PRINCETON: Charles McVicker’s oil painting, “Mustard Field, The Great Road”, will be one of his works on show in the joint exhibit with Lucy Graves McVicker opening with a reception from 3 to 6 p.m. this Sunday, June 2, at the Sawmill Gallery at Prallsville Mills, Route 29, Stockton. (Image Courtesy of the Artist)

Although they share their home and their lives, and have the creative impulse in common, husband and wife artists Lucy Graves McVicker and Charles McVicker rarely exhibit their artwork together. So, the show that opens this Sunday, June 2, at the Sawmill Gallery at Prallsville Mills in Stockton, promises to be a rare treat.

The exhibition, for which there is a reception from 3 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, is titled “Opposites Attract,” appropriately enough. This is their first joint show in many years.

As the exhibition will demonstrate, each artist has maintained a unique approach borne of differing personalities, temperaments, and conceptions of art. Although they have worked side by side for many years, the couple say that they have not influenced each others’ output. Rather, with encouragement and humor, each has watched the other develop an individual artistic path.

Through critiques, art classes, and individual teaching, the couple has affected a broad range of local artists over the years.

The McVickers married after college when Charles was in the Army. Lucy supported her husband while he studied at The Art Center College of Design on the GI Bill, and raised the couple’s three daughters when they came to Princeton, during which time he commuted to Manhattan as a free-lance illustrator. When their youngest daughter, Heather, was in school, Lucy commuted to Parsons School of Design for two years to renew her own interest in painting.

WATER WORLD: This acrylic painting titled "Deep Water's Treasures," by Lucy Graves McVicker will be  on show in a rare joint husband and wife exhibition opening, Sunday, June 2, and running through June 15 at the Sawmill Gallery at Prallsville Mills, Route 29, Stockton.

WATER WORLD: This acrylic painting titled “Deep Water’s Treasures,” by Lucy Graves McVicker will be on show in a rare joint husband and wife exhibition opening, Sunday, June 2, and running through June 15 at the Sawmill Gallery at Prallsville Mills, Route 29, Stockton.

Mr. McVicker, then became an assistant professor of art at The College of New Jersey, and both artists began to enter local, statewide, and national juried exhibits.

Both have won significant honors and awards in state and national competitions and both are called on to serve as jurors for art exhibitions.

Charles McVicker has works in the permanent collections of the U.S. Capital, The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers, and Princeton University. As one of the founders of the Princeton Artists Alliance, he has seen this organization expand the scope of art through significant venues such as Bristol-Myers Squibb Gallery, The Newark Museum, and the Noyes Museum in Oceanville, NewJersey.

Artwork by Lucy Graves McVicker is in the collections of Bristol Myers Squibb, Johnson and Johnson, AtlantiCare, and ADP Corporation. She was represented by Janet Hunt of the Coryell Gallery in Lambertville for over 15 years.

Both have paintings in the collection of the DuPont Corporation, and their artworks have recently been selected to be hung in both the Capital Health System’s new hospital, and The University Medical Center at Princeton.

The exhibition benefits the Delaware River Mill Society and takes place through June 15 at the Sawmill Gallery at Prallsville Mills, Route 29, north of Lambertville, Gallery hours are: Tuesday through Sunday, 1-6 p.m. Charles McVicker will lead a gallery “Talk and Tour” on Wednesday June 5, at 2 p.m. and Lucy Graves McVicker will offer a watercolor demonstration on Saturday, June 8 at 2 p.m.

AOY Art Center at the Patterson Farm, 949 Mirror Lake Road, Yardley, Pa., has the Artists of Yardley 2nd Annual Juried Show through June 2. Original paintings, photographs, and sculpture by regional artists is on view. Visit www.artists
ofyardley.org.

Art Times Two Gallery, Princeton Brain and Spine Care, 731 Alexander Road, presents photos by Eileen Hohmuth-Lemonick and Kris Giacobbe, titled “REPORT: Providing Health Care Where Basic Needs are Unmet” through November. View by appointment. Call (609) 203-4622.

Artists’ Gallery, 18 Bridge Street, Lambertville, has “EAT,” a show by photographer John Treichler, through June 9. (609) 397-4588.

Artworks, 19 Everett Alley, Trenton, “Unchained, the Bike Art Show” through June 13. The show explores the intersection of art and bike culture. Visit www.art
workstrenton.org.

Arts Council of Princeton, Paul Robeson Center, 102 Witherspoon Street, has “Neighborhood Portrait: Documenting the Witherspoon-Jackson Community” on permanent exhibit. “Mimesis,” curated by Thaddeus Erdahl with works by regional ceramics artists, runs through June 15. www.artscouncilofprinceton.org.

Bernstein Gallery at the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, has “Cooking for Change,” photos by Steve Riskind and text by Doris Friedensohn, through June 7.

College of New Jersey Art Gallery, Pennington Road, Ewing Township, presents “Art, Innovation and Ideas,” a juried K-12 exhibition June 2-23 including work by students from all over the state. Artist Faith Ringgold is among the jurors.

D&R Greenway, 1 Preservation Place, has “Dangerous Blossoms,” a mixed-media exhibit, through July 19. Visit www.drgreenway.org.

Douglass Library, Rutgers, 8 Chapel Drive, New Brunswick, has “Trans Technology: Circuits of Culture, Self Belonging” through June 3. The show is part of the Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series.

Ellarslie, Trenton’s City Museum in Cadwalader Park, Parkside Avenue, Trenton, presents the Delaware Valley Fine Crafts Invitational and “Memories of Warsaw,” paintings and drawings by Kyle Hamilton, June 15-July 28. “Trenton Entourage Motors ‘Round the World in 1909” is June 15-September 22. The opening reception for all three shows is June 22, 7-9 p.m. A fine craft demonstration by Joyce Inderbitzin and Geoffrey Noden is July 14, 2 p.m. (609) 989-1191.

Firestone Library at Princeton University, has “Your True Friend and Enemy: Princeton and the Civil War” in the Mudd Manuscript Library through July 31. “A Republic in the Wilderness: Treasures of American History from Jamestown to Appomattox” is on view through August.

Gallery 14, 14 Mercer Street, Hopewell, has “Where the Land and Water Meet: A Father and Son Show” by Richard and Win Trenner through June 2. Visit photogallery14.com.

Gourgaud Gallery, Town Hall, Cranbury, has “Spring Splash,” works by Watercolorists Unlimited, June 2-30. A reception is June 2, 1-3 p.m.

Grounds for Sculpture, Fairgrounds Road in Hamilton, has Ming Fay’s “Canutopia” in the East Gallery through July. In the Meadow, “THRE3” and “MYTHOS” are on view. Visit www.groundsforsculpture.org.

Historical Society of Princeton, Bainbridge House, 158 Nassau Street, has photographs from its collection in the Princeton Pride Gallery. “We Love Princeton: Stories from the Street” and “Einstein at Home” are also on view. For more information visit www.princetonhistory.org.

The James A. Michener Art Museum at 138 South Pine Street in Doylestown, Pa., has “Transformations II: Works in Steel by Karl Stirner” through June 16. “Creative Hand, Discerning Heart: Form, Rhythm, Song” is on view through September 29. “Nelson Shanks: A Brush with Reality” is exhibited June 8-September 8. Visit www.michener
artmuseum.org.

Jane, 7 Spring Street, hosts “The James McPhillips Museum and Gift Shop Show” through June 14. Meet the artist June 1, 12-4 p.m.

The Jane Voorhees Zimmerli Art Museum, 71 Hamilton Street, on the Rutgers campus in New Brunswick, has “Lynd Ward Draws Stories: Inspired by Mexico’s History, Mark Twain, and Adventures in the Woods” through June 23. “Henri-Gabriel Ibels” is exhibited through September 8. Works by Russian artist Leonid Sokov are displayed through July 14. “Stars: Contemporary Prints by Derriere L’Etoile Studio” is on view through September 29. “Leningrad’s Perestroika: Crosscurrents in Photography, Video, and Music” is on view through September 13.

Lucas Gallery, Lewis Center for the Arts, 185 Nassau Street, Princeton University, has works by graduating seniors in the Program in Visual Arts, through June 4.

Morpeth Contemporary, 43 West Broad Street, Hopewell, presents paintings by Ann O’Connor, titled “reverie,” through June 15.

Morven Museum & Garden, 55 Stockton Street, shows “Coastal Impression, Painters of the Jersey Shore, 1880-1940” through September 29. Visit www.morven.org.

The Nassau Club, 6 Mercer Street, has new paintings by Shirley Kern, “The Liminal Line,” through May 31. Call (609) 924-0850.

New Hope Arts Center, A Space Gallery, 2 Stockton Avenue, New Hope, Pa. shows “The Not For Sale Art Show and Salon Party” by The Artist Circle, weekends through June 2.

Plainsboro Library Gallery, 9 Van Doren Street, Plainsboro, has traditional Japanese watercolors and calligraphy by Taiko Lyding.

Princeton Public Library, 65 Witherspoon Street, has in it’s second floor gallery a Drip Art Series by members of the
Arctists Collective. A reception is June 14, 6-9 p.m. It is sponsored by The Arc Mercer. www.arcmercer.org.

Princeton Theological Seminary’s Erdman Gallery, 20 Library Place, exhibits works by master iconographers and apprentices of the Prosopon School through June 30.

The Princeton University Art Museum has “Revealing the African Presence in Renaissance Europe” through June 9. “Picturing Power: Capitalism, Democracy, and American Portraiture” is on view through June 30. “1913: The Year of Modernism” is on display through June 23. From June 29-September 15, “Shared Vision: The Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla Collection of Photography” is exhibited. Museum hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Thursday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Call (609) 258-3788.

Small World Coffee, 14 Witherspoon Street, has “Space and Light” abstract paintings and portraits by Jannick Wildberg through June 4. “Away We Go,” a group exhibition by Art+10, is June 4-July 2. “Cosmic Works,” pastels by Joel Rudin, is June 2.

Straube Center, 1 Straube Center Boulevard, Pennington, shows Jay McClellan’s “Tip, Honey & Lucky-Bold Barks” paintings through June 14. Visit www.straubecenter.com.

Triumph Brewery, 138 Nassau Street, has works by Jordana Scheer through June 22.

Veridian Gallery, 43 South Main Street, Pennington, has recent watercolors by Linda Bradshaw through June 29.

West Windsor Arts Center, 952 Alexander Road, West Windsor, exhibits “WW33: Full Circles,” by artists aged 13-33, through June 15. From June 15-July 20, “Full Circles/Painters Circle” shows the work of older artists. The opening reception is June 23, 4-6 p.m. (609) 716-1931.

YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT??!!: The gangster Marshall (John Goodman, left) accompanied by his sidekick (John Epps) refuses to divulge where he stashed the $21 million dollars he stole from Chow (Ken Jeong, not shown). So it is up to the wolfpack to figure out where the money is and free Doug, who has been kidnapped by Chow.

YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT??!!: The gangster Marshall (John Goodman, left) accompanied by his sidekick (John Epps) refuses to divulge where he stashed the $21 million dollars he stole from Chow (Ken Jeong, not shown). So it is up to the wolfpack to figure out where the money is and free Doug, who has been kidnapped by Chow.

When we last left the wolfpack, (Doug, Stu, Phil, and Alan), the boys were in Thailand for the wedding of Stu (Ed Helms) and Lauren (Jamie Chung). Of course, before the bride and groom could tie the knot, the men found themselves separated from Doug (Justin Bartha) who was suffering from amnesia following a wild night of partying in a seedy part of Bangkok.

But that was two years ago and now everybody has settled down into humdrum, uneventful lives in suburban Los Angeles. Everybody that is, except Alan (Zach Galifiniakis). He went off his medications recently which might explain such bizarre behavior as driving down the freeway with a giraffe in a trailer.

However, after his father (Jeffrey Tambor) passes away suddenly, Alan takes a turn for the worse and his pals stage an intervention and drive him to a mental health facility in Arizona for help.

However, before they arrive, their car is run off the road and Doug is kidnapped for ransom by Chow (Ken Jeong), the mobster you may remember from Hangover I and II. He and his henchman (Mike Epps) demand that the wolfpack retrieve $21 million in gold stolen from them by Marshall (John Goodman), a ruthless gangster who stashed the bars of bullion in the walls of a mansion located somewhere in Tijuana.

That is the point of departure of The Hangover Part III, a finale for the trilogy which is an improvement over Part II yet still pales in comparison to the zany original. At least you don’t develop a nagging sense of déjà vu watching this screwball adventure, even if it isn’t exactly laugh out loud funny.

The story takes Phil (Bradley Cooper) and the rest of the wolfpack south of the border and then on to Las Vegas for another round of male-bonding rituals. Once there, Stu stumbles upon his ex (Heather Graham) and Alan finds the woman of his dreams (Melissa McCarthy), a big hint that the trilogy is destined to be stretched into a tetralogy.

Very Good (***). Rated R for sexuality, drug use, violence, brief nudity, and pervasive profanity. Running time: 100 minutes. Distributor: Warner Brothers.

May 22, 2013

RecordReviewI’m looking at a photograph of my father when he was a graduate student at Indiana University. He’s wearing a sleeveless sweater and in his lap is a princely male Siamese cat named Kiloo. He had purchased Kiloo for a nominal sum from an opera singer everyone called Madame Manski, who, I have just discovered, sang at the Met, as Brünnhilde in Wagner’s Die Walküre, Elsa in Lohengrin, Venus in Tannhäuser, and Gutrune in Twilight of the Gods before moving on to sing Isolde in Tristan und Isolde under the direction of Bruno Walter at the Vienna State Opera. Being only six at the time, I would not have been as impressed by this information as I am now, faced with the daunting prospect of delivering a column on Wagner’s 200th birthday (1813-1883). I own no LPs or CDs of Wagner’s music and have never been to a concert, unless you count the production of Parsifal I was coerced into attending at a time when my interest in “serious music” had peaked with the Gerry Mulligan Quartet.

One of the handful of Wagnerians I know is a London research consultant who recently told me of the time he somewhat nervously introduced his 15-year-old daughter to “her first real experience of Wagner,” a performance of Siegfried at Covent Garden. Booking the tickets, he’d been worried she might not “take to it.” At the end of the first act he turned to her to see how she liked it, and she said, “Daddy, you’ve changed my life!” They’ve been sharing Wagner ever since, including memorable productions of the Ring at the Royal Albert Hall in 1998 and Covent Garden in 2007.

When my father turned to see how I felt after the first half of Parsifal, I didn’t need to say anything. My bleary eyes and stifled yawns told the story. I just didn’t get it. I didn’t want to get it.

Wagner, the Film

In my five-day crash course I’ve tried to catch up with Wagner by listening to a stack of CDs from the library and watching Tony Palmer’s magnificent nine-hour-long 1983 made-for-television Wagner with Richard Burton (1925-1984) in the title role. The film took me and my wife four nights to get through, and though our eyes may have been a little bleary, we weren’t yawning. In fact, Wagner may be the most visually arresting, splendidly staged film biography ever made. The version cut in half and shown on Channel 13 in 1986 was deemed a “colossal disaster” by John J. O’Connor in the New York Times (a gross misjudgment that can be half-excused because he was watching only half a film and you can be pretty sure that the missing parts were unmissable).

As O’Connor rightly points out, the film doesn’t ignore or soft-pedal Wagner’s anti-semitism (though it’s not “rabid,” as O’Connor terms it, but casual, constant, and matter of fact). Nor is his arrogance, or nationalistic fervor glossed over or excused. He’s an insufferable egomaniac who assumes that as the great genius of the age he has the right to take full advantage of his friends’ time, money, devotion, and wives, and when someone points this out, he says, keeping a straight face (we laughed out loud), “But that’s what friends are for.” It’s hard to imagine Burton’s Wagner as the storm-bearing, sword-brandishing godfather of the Third Reich because he’s being played by a Welshman with Shakespeare in his DNA and less than two years to live who may sense that this is his last great part, probably the most challenging since his Hamlet 20 years before. And there’s a Shakespearean force and wit in his Wagner; you suspect he’s thinking of Hamlet’s advice to the players (“Speak the speech, I pray you”) every time he tells his singers and musicians how to perform his music. True to Hamlet’s lesson, Burton never “tears a passion to tatters to split the ears of the groundlings.” In particular, the conversations with Ronald Pickup’s Nietzsche are brilliantly and subtly played by both actors and Nietzsche’s extraordinary dinner table soliloquy must be one of the many brilliant moments dropped from the version of the film seen by O’Connor.

Chaplin and Levine

My Open Sesame to Wagner was the Prelude to Lohengrin. Not only did the unearthly beauty of this nine-and-a half-minute-long piece of music hold me, it followed me around. I knew I’d heard it somewhere before. Then a reference to the music haunting me appeared on the front page of Monday’s New York Times with a picture of James Levine on his return to the Met, conducting from his wheel chair “a serene, poised and glowing” account of “the Prelude to Act I of Lohengrin.” A week ago I would have drawn a blank on that sentence. Having lived in and been stalked by that music long enough by now, all I can say is “What?” Poised? Serene? This is soul-stealing music by the composer James Huneker calls “The greatest poet of passion the world has yet encountered.”

If you want to see poetry and poise and passion, look at Charlie Chaplin’s travesty of Hitler in The Great Dictator. The scene where he does a pas de deux with a helium globe of the world may be the most stylized solo turn in his repertoire. Think of it — in September 1940 an entertainer beloved around the world disappears into a Nazi uniform, with mock swastikas and gleaming jackboots, taking advantage of that little dab of mustache that the Dictator and the Tramp have in common. A lesser performer with the same mission would go heavy, making something demented and demonic of the globe ballet while prescribing more of the same for the soundtrack. Chaplin becomes an almost maidenly Hitler, the world is his poem, until his lust gets the better of him, prompting a subdued fit of mad-genius cackling. Then the lover embracing, nuzzling, and noodling the globe becomes a child with a toy, bumping it with his bum, Chaplinesquely jackbooting it up to the ceiling. It should be uproarious. But it isn’t, not really. Somehow the whole performance has become something you feel, it’s coming up behind you, unsettling you, undermining you, which is when the balloon bursts and the music stops.

Yes, the music! It’s been there throughout the bizarre ballet, music of subtle, insidious splendor, so piercingly, uncannily beautiful, that you could close your eyes and simply submit to it, cry with it, die with it, if you weren’t already so thoroughly transfixed by Chaplin’s art; the music isn’t there to accompany the caperings of a giddy madman, it’s there for Chaplin, it’s the melodic manifestation of his genius. And though I must have seen that sequence many times before this week — a standard item in any anthology of Chaplin’s greatest moments — I never paid much attention to the inappropriate delicacy of the music, never gave the source of it a thought,  assuming Chaplin had composed it himself, as he did the music for his other full-length films. It’s only thanks to this past week’s crash course in Wagner that I can finally appreciate Chaplin’s crowning touch, to score his devastating caricature of Der Führer with Wagner’s Prelude to Lohengrin. Did he also comprehend that the beautiful music he was using contained elements of the same emotional dynamite that made Wagner the Reich’s inspirational maestro? In his autobiography Chaplin says that he would never have dared to make that film had he known what was going on in the concentration camps.

Baudelaire Floating

Eighty years before Chaplin released The Great Dictator, the same music opened a program of Wagner at the Theatre des Italiens in Paris, with Wagner conducting. According to Enid Starkie’s biography of Baudelaire, the author of Les fleurs du mal was in the audience experiencing Wagner for the first time as “one long revelation.” In his landmark essay on Wagner, said to be the only piece he ever wrote about a musical event, Baudelaire describes listening with eyes closed to the Prelude to Lohengrin and feeling as if “lifted from the earth,” “released from the bonds of gravity,” aware of “the extraordinary thrill of pleasure which dwells in high places,” imagining himself “in the grip of a profound reverie, in an absolute solitude … with an immense horizon and a wide diffusion of light; an immensity with no other decor but itself” until he comes to a “full conception of a soul moving about in a luminous medium, of an ecstasy composed of knowledge and joy, hovering high above the natural world” [Baudelaire’s italics].

Proust’s Telephone

Another of Wagner’s French admirers, Marcel Proust didn’t need to go to a concert to fall under his spell. He describes hearing the music in everyday sounds, like the opening and closing of a door that renders “those broken, voluptuous, plaintive phrases that overlap the chant of the pilgrims towards the end of the Overture to Tannhäuser,” or in the sound of the telephone while Marcel waits in lonely anguish for a call from Albertine that resembles, when it finally comes, “the shepherd’s pipe in Tristan.” Wagner is present all through Remembrance of Things Past, as when, among many instances, the fictitious composer Vinteuil’s “little phrase” is compared to a theme in Tristan, or when Swann’s Odette expresses a passion for Wagner and thinks of visiting Bayreuth, and when during the First War the sirens are “Wagnerian,” evoking the “Ride of the Valkyries” and what other music could hail “the arrival of the Germans?”

Wagner’s Reach

After citing “a host of circumstances, not the least Wagner’s own writings” that “drove his music into the proximity of the most evil political system in the history of Western Europe,” Nicholas Spice’s recent London Review of Books essay, “Is Wagner Bad for Us” explicitly “skirts … the fraught question of the association of Wagner’s works with National Socialism” because “the subject of Wagner and the Nazis is too big to be fitted meaningfully into a set of general reflections on the composer.”

Filming Wagner in the early 1980s, Richard Burton’s instincts brought him into contact with “the fraught question.” At the end of his life as an actor, surely knowing it’s his last hurrah, he’s summoning the power he found playing Hamlet, where the ecstasy of acting, the overflow of spirit and language, made theatrical sense of acts of violence like the killing of Polonius that in turn drives Ophelia to drown herself; he must have recognized a comparable force in his Wagner. It’s the art of excess that James Huneker was writing about at the turn of the previous century, with his reference to a fascinating “poet of passion” whose “demoniac art … enchants, thrills, and makes mock of all spiritual theories about the divine in music.”

In the preludes to Lohengrin and Tristan, Wagner becomes something else altogether, something perhaps best described by his great counterpart Verdi, whose bicentennial is also this year. After experiencing Tristan and Isolde, Verdi said “that he could never quite grasp the fact that it had been created by a mere human being.”

The Verdi quote is from Bryan Magee’s The Tristan Chord: Wagner and Philosophy (Holt 2000), which I read around in, particularly the chapter on “Wagner’s Misleading Reputation.” For an interesting behind-the-scenes look at the 2010 Robert Lepage production of the Ring, see Wagner’s Dream (2012), which the New York Times called “the rare backstage film that maintains a level head even in moments of crisis.” The DVD is available at the library, which also has the complete version of Tony Palmer’s Wagner that by all rights should be out in Blu-Ray for the bicentennial. WKCR 89.9FM New York, the radio station of Columbia University, will commemorate Wagner’s 200th birthday with a 48-hour broadcast of the operas, from Rienzi to Parsifal. It begins today, May 22, and runs through May 23. The Princeton Festival will present Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre on Saturday, June 22 at 8 p.m. and Sunday June 29 at 3 p.m. It will be the Festival’s first Wagnerian production.

ART, INNOVATION, IDEAS: Faith Ringgold will be one of four artists and teachers judging submissions from local students to The College of New Jersey’s exhibition, “Art, Innovation and Ideas,” opening Sunday June 2. Students from high schools in Princeton and Lawrenceville will be featured in the TCNJ art gallery. An opening reception will be held at the gallery, Sunday, June 2, from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information, call (609) 771-2633, or visit: visit www.tcnj.edu/artgallery.

ART, INNOVATION, IDEAS: Faith Ringgold will be one of four artists and teachers judging submissions from local students to The College of New Jersey’s exhibition, “Art, Innovation and Ideas,” opening Sunday June 2. Students from high schools in Princeton and Lawrenceville will be featured in the TCNJ art gallery. An opening reception will be held at the gallery, Sunday, June 2, from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information, call (609) 771-2633, or visit: visit www.tcnj.edu/artgallery.

This summer, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) will showcase artwork by New Jersey’s K-12 students alongside innovative lessons designed by their talented art teachers.

Students from Princeton High School, The Hun School, Maurice Hawk School in Princeton, as well as students from Notre Dame High School and Slackwood School in Lawrenceville have artwork accepted to the exhibition, “Art, Innovation, and Ideas,” which is co-organized by Dr. Lisa LaJevic, assistant professor and program coordinator of art education at TCNJ, and Emily Croll, director of TCNJ’s Art Gallery.

The exhibition opens in the college’s Art and Interactive Multimedia (AIMM) Building on Sunday, June 2 and continues through June 23. An opening reception will be held at the gallery, Sunday, June 2, from 1 to 3 p.m.

Of the more than 440 artworks submitted to “Art, Innovation, and Ideas,” 121 submissions were accepted after review by a jury of contemporary artists, curators, and educators, including internationally acclaimed artist, illustrator, and author Faith Ringgold.

Known for her painted story quilts, Ms. Ringgold has works in the permanent collections of many museums including the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Museum of Modern Art, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Her many awards include 22 honorary doctorates. A devoted advocate for art education, she has illustrated sixteen children’s books, eleven of which she authored. Her first book, Tar Beach, was a Caldecott Honor Book and winner of the Coretta Scott King Award for Illustration.

Other jurors include New Jersey artist and educator Aylin Green; Baltimore-based sculptor and fine artist Christine Tillman; painter and director of Art Collaborations in Princeton, Heather Barros; and TCNJ Gallery Director Emily Croll.

Ms. Green is currently the membership director at Grounds for Sculpture. She holds a Masters of Ed from Tufts University in Boston, Mass., and a BFA in Sculpture from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Her mixed media paintings and cast metal sculpture has been exhibited at galleries and art centers throughout the region including Philadelphia, Princeton, and Trenton. She has taught classes for adults and children in a variety of traditional and experimental media in a range of educational settings including private studios, city and county programs, public schools, and art centers.

Ms. Tillman is primarily a sculptor who draws. Her main interests lie in ideas surrounding handmade celebrations and man-made interpretations of natural forms. She earned her MFA in painting and drawing from the University of Iowa.

Ms. Barros directs Art Collaborations, an art school in Princeton offering year-round classes for children, teens and adults. She began teaching children at the Arts Council of Princeton in 1990 and now directs art programs and summer art camps at the Arts Council, Montgomery Cultural Center, Charter School of Princeton, and now with Art Collaborations. She studied oil painting with Gregory Perkel for ten years and paints every day, en plein air every week. “I’ve visited art museums around the world and I’ve seen some of the greatest art ever made, but children’s art work is still my favorite genre,” says Ms. Barros. “I once thought that if I surrounded myself with children’s art long enough that I could do it as well. I’m not even close.”

“Art, Innovation, and Ideas” is intended to connect student learning and art to current real world issues. It aims to exhibit meaningful two-dimensional, three-dimensional, and media artworks and to recognize efforts by New Jersey art educators to push the boundaries of the arts in K-12 schools. Submissions were received from more than 100 cities and towns across the state.

“As the world is changing, it is vital that arts pedagogy and curriculum reflects the world in which we live,” says Dr. LaJevic. “As such, I support innovative art making that connects student learning and art to the real world, academic subjects, social issues, big ideas, and/or contemporary art.”

TCNJ Art Gallery is located in the Arts and Interactive Multimedia Building (AIMM) on the campus at 2000 Pennington Road, Ewing. In June, the gallery is open to the public free of charge, Wednesdays and Sundays from 1 to 3 p.m. and by special appointment for groups and school visits.

For more information, call (609) 771-2633, or visit: visit www.tcnj.edu/edu/artgallery.

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) completed its 2012-13 Princeton concert series in grand fashion on Friday night with a performance full of precision, operatic flair, and innovative musical composition. Music Director Jacques Lacombe led the orchestra in a program of two works linked by musical richness and complexity, combined with a concerto capturing the essence and humor of the growing child, all served to a wildly enthusiastic audience in Richardson Auditorium.

The opening work commemorated the birth year of towering composer Richard Wagner, who would have been 200 years old as this review arrives on Princeton doorsteps. Wagner’s Prelude to his monumental opera Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg brought together the major themes of the opera in a majestic flow well captured by the New Jersey Symphony. The opening phrases showed a bit of heavy playing, but the strings developed a leaner sound for the second section with clean and stately motives from the brass. Mr. Lacombe kept the tempi moving along, marked by sinuous solo lines from oboist James Roe, flutist Bart Feller, and clarinetist Karl Herman, and a solid underpinning from the tuba, played by Derek Fenstermacher. Mr. Lacombe took an especially broad approach to the close of the work, with precise rhythmic motives from the brass.

As part of its New Jersey Roots Project, the orchestra presented the east coast premiere of Princeton composer Steven Mackey’s Stumble to Grace: Concerto for Piano and Orchestra — a unique piece capturing an aspect of everyday life in innovative musical style. All parents can identify with the struggles, both poignant and humorous, of a child learning to walk, as Dr. Mackey characterized, “learning to become human.” A joint commission by NJSO, the St. Louis Symphony and Los Angeles Philharmonic, Stumble to Grace musically depicts several stages of child development, emphasized by a huge range of percussion instruments and effects.

The piece began with what sounded like looking out over a collection of child’s toys, followed by an effect with which all parents are familiar — the sound of things dropping. Piano soloist Orli Shaham (to whom the work is dedicated) played the appealing jazzy piano lines with swing as Mr. Lacombe kept a crisp beat from the accompanying orchestra. The musical communication and jazz rhythms between soloist and orchestra was exact, with a light right hand in the piano perfectly answered by the orchestra in the first section. Stumble to Grace changed character among its five movements (much like the day-to-day changes of a growing child), and Ms. Shaham and the NJSO captured the different moods well. So varied were the percussive and orchestral effects that this is the kind of piece one might want to hear again just to catch all the different instrumental tricks.

Tchaikovsky’s massive yet elegant Symphony No. 5 in E minor has been a cornerstone of the orchestra’s late spring concert offerings, and clearly one with which Mr. Lacombe is very familiar. Composed in 1888, the four-movement symphony is cyclical (considered one of Tchaikovsky’s “motto” symphonies), with a theme which recurs in some form in each movement. Like many of Tchaikovsky’s symphonic works, the piece retains an element of tragedy, but has an overall arch leading to triumph which Mr. Lacombe captured with a musical approach emphasizing elegance and clean harmonic flow. Clarinetists Karl Herman and Andrew Lamy opened the first movement in dark and stately fashion, as Mr. Lacombe took his time leading up to a lilting first theme. The wind melodies maintained an even flow, with solos from Mr. Herman and bassoonist Robert Wagner. An almost imperceptible beginning marked the second movement Andante with the beginnings of triumph well introduced by an expressive solo from hornist Chris Komer. The winds took charge in this movement, with graceful solo playing by Mr. Herman, Mr. Wagner, and oboist James Roe topping off the orchestral fabric.

This was a symphony of great tunes and melodic phrases, and Mr. Lacombe paid tribute to its light-hearted touch in the third movement Valse, saving an operatic crescendo for the fourth movement Finale. The work closed in grand fashion, with crisp trumpets and a joyous coda which seemed to characterize the NJSO’s season this year. A lively encore excerpt from Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet score sent the audience home in high spirits, no doubt looking forward to more great music from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra next year.

ENJOYING A BREAK FROM THEIR NON-STOP SAILING DUTIES: The crew of the Kon Tiki take advantage of what was surely a rare moment in their trip to enjoy a calm moment in their long and dangerous voyage across the Pacific Ocean.

ENJOYING A BREAK FROM THEIR NON-STOP SAILING DUTIES: The crew of the Kon Tiki take advantage of what was surely a rare moment in their trip to enjoy a calm moment in their long and dangerous voyage across the Pacific Ocean.

At the beginning of the 20th century it was generally agreed that Polynesia had been settled by Asians arriving from the Far East. But it’s one thing for a professor to sit in an ivory tower and speculate about who might have discovered the island group some 1,500 years ago and quite another to go about proving a theory by attempting to replicate the putative pioneers’ feat.

While doing research in the Marquesas on the Isle of Fatu Hiva in the mid-30s, a Norwegian anthropologist named Thor Heyerdahl (Pal Sverre Hagen) came up with a novel idea about the roots of the natives. After studying the local fauna and flora, watching the flow of the tides, and listening to aborigine folklore about their ancestors’ arduous journey towards the setting sun, he reasoned that the region must have been settled by tribes migrating there from South America.

When his iconoclastic idea was roundly ridiculed by his colleagues, Thor decided to prove his theory by organizing a 4,300-mile expedition from Peru to Polynesia. Even though he knew nothing about sailing, and couldn’t swim, he had the sense to assemble a team capable of assisting him in the dangerous endeavor.

They built a balsa wood raft identical to the type used by indigenous people in pre-Columbian times by meticulously following their methods of construction down to the smallest detail. And since they would not be able to steer this vessel, christened the Kon-Tiki, Thor estimated it would take about three months for the currents and winds to take them to their destination.

His intrepid crew was comprised of four fellow Norwegians and a Swede, including his childhood friend, Erik Hesselberg (Odd Magnus Williamson), the navigator; radioman Knut Haugland (Tobias Santelmann), a decorated World War II veteran; Torstein Raaby (Jakob Oftebro), another radio expert; Herman Watzinger (Anders Baasmo Christiansen), an engineer; and Bengt Danielsson (Gustaf Skarsgard), the Swedish steward.

Co-directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg, Kon-Tiki faithfully chronicles their historic transoceanic voyage. Despite the fact that most of the picture’s dialogue is English, it earned a well-deserved Oscar nomination in the Best Foreign Language Film category earlier this year.

The men set sail in the spring of 1947, encountering storms, shark attacks, ship rot, insubordination, and a host of other challenges. The deliberately paced production harks back to a bygone era when much of the Earth’s surface had not yet been explored.

Replete with breathtaking Pacific panoramas shot on location, Kon-Tiki is worth watching for the captivating visuals alone. However, the storytelling is solid, too, which all adds up to a fitting tribute to the exploits of legendary Thor Heyerdahl.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for violence. In English, Norwegian, Swedish, and French with subtitles. Running time: 118 minutes. Distributor: The Weinstein Company.