October 28, 2020

TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER: Before renovations of the State Theatre in New Brunswick gets underway, the historic auditorium is auctioning off some of its seats.

State Theatre New Jersey has begun extensive renovations to its historic auditorium in anticipation of its 100th Anniversary in 2021. As part of the renovation, STNJ is auctioning off 20 historic theater seat pairs, seven VIP box seats, and 23 VIP orchestra pit seats.

Proceeds from the Seat Auction will benefit State Theatre’s Next Stage Campaign renovation plans aimed at ensuring accessibility throughout the theater and safety for all, including an elevator for access to all theater levels; upgrading patron amenities throughout the theater, backstage areas, and production equipment; and improving efficiencies in systems to reduce operational costs.

The Seat Auction bidding ends at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, October 30. Each item will go to the highest bidder. Winners will be contacted by a State Theatre representative by email on November 3 for pickup arrangements. An official certificate of authenticity from State Theatre New Jersey will accompany each item.   more

FEZZIWIG AND FRIENDS AT HOME: To keep the spirit of “A Christmas Carol” alive this year, McCarter Theatre is offering a specially curated box of activities.

While the pandemic has caused cancellation of McCarter Theatre Center’s annual production of A Christmas Carol, the organization’s artistic team has come up with a way to share the themes of the timeless story with an original gift box.

A Christmas Carol @HOME has curated items to create a version of the classic tale by Charles Dickens, while exploring activities and surprises. Each box can be used as a family activity or given as a holiday gift. Inside are individually wrapped envelopes with scenes that can be performed in person (or over Zoom), character sketch postcards to paint, color, send, or frame; and “conversation cards” to spark discussion around the story’s themes. more

“THE STREAM AT PHILLIPS’ MILL”: This painting by Patricia Clarkson is featured in Phillips’ Mill’s 91st Annual Art Show, on view online through November 1 at phillipsmill.org.

Those who appreciate art and like to support area artists have through Sunday, November 1, to view and purchase framed pieces, sculpture, and portfolio items from many of the region’s best artists at Phillips’ Mill’s 91st Annual Art Show  — online only this year due to COVID-19.

Twenty-three sculptors, 96 artists who submitted framed work, and 142 portfolio artists are included in the show. Initial funding to help set the show up was donated by community patrons and benefactors who also provided funds for awards including the Honored Artist award that was presented to Louis Russomanno for his Studio Light painting. There were 18 more awards presented that include cash prizes. Many of the awards are in honor or memory of area artists and art aficionados.  more

“REFLECTION”: “Autumn Vista” by Debbie Pisacreta, above, and “Leaning In” by Jane Adriance, below, are featured in their dual art exhibition, on view November 5 through December 6 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville.

Artists Jane Adriance and Debbie Pisacreta will exhibit paintings in an art exhibition entitled “Reflection,” running November 5 through December 6 at the Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville.

The pandemic, and the resulting quarantine, forced many people to be isolated more. For Adriance and Pisacreta, this was a time of quiet reflection which affected the kind of paintings they produced, and the emotions they felt when painting.  more

October 21, 2020

By Stuart Mitchner

I could get to where the massacre happened in 15 minutes on the bus when I was a kid.

—Director Mike Leigh, discussing Peterloo

I spent last Wednesday morning finishing The Plague and rereading The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. With Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s birthday a week away, it made sense to go from Albert Camus and his apparent conclusion that the plague “opens men’s eyes and forces them to take thought” to Coleridge’s concluding reference to the Mariner’s captive audience, the Wedding Guest, as a “sadder and wiser man.” Both narratives appear to end on a positive note. For Camus, it’s “to state quite simply what we learn in time of pestilence: that there are more things to admire in men than to despise.” For Coleridge, it’s “He prayeth best, who loveth best / All things both great and small.”

Except that The Plague’s Doctor Rieux realizes at the close of the novel, as he listens to “the cries of joy rising from the town, that such joy is always imperiled … that the plague bacillus never dies or disappears for good; that it can lie dormant for years and years … that it bides its time in bedrooms, cellars, trunks, and bookshelves, and that perhaps the day would come when, for the bane and enlightening of men, it would rouse up its rats again and send them forth to die in a happy city.”

And despite the freedom the bright-eyed Mariner feels after unloading the burden of his “ghastly tale” on the terrified Wedding Guest, he knows the “woeful agony” will return, when his heart within him “burns” and he must pass, “like night, from land to land,” with “strange power of speech” until he finds the man who must hear him (“To him my tale I teach”). more

“PANTHER HOLLOW”: Passage Theatre presented, to ticketed YouTube viewers, a prerecorded video of “Panther Hollow.” Written and performed by David Lee White (above), and directed by John Augustine, this candid and wry monologue describes the artist’s struggles with clinical depression at age 25. (Photo by Michael Goldstein)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Passage Theatre has presented a prerecorded video of Panther Hollow. Writer and performer David Lee White’s candid, darkly humorous monologue was originally presented in March 2016, as part of Passage’s Solo Flights Festival. John Augustine was the stage director; the video was produced and directed by Susan Ryan.

In an introduction, Managing Director Damion Parran acknowledges that the video was donated by White to Passage, for use as a fundraiser for the company’s upcoming season. Although the video was distributed via YouTube, its presentation was treated as a theatrical event; ticket buyers were emailed a link that entitled them to view the performance from October 17-20.

White’s work with Passage has included serving as its managing director, and subsequently, its associate artistic director and resident playwright. Previously the company has presented his plays Blood: A Comedy, If I Could, In My Hood, I Would… and Slippery as Sin. Currently White is collaborating (with Richard Bradford and the members of The OK Trenton Ensemble) on The Ok Trenton Project, which is “scheduled to premiere as a full production in October of 2021,” according to Passage’s website.

In a video interview for Passage, White was asked about the process of writing Panther Hollow. He credits previous Solo Flights productions with its inspiration. “A lot of people would come on and do these shows, and over the years I got really fascinated with them,” White says. “I thought, ‘I wonder if this is something I can do.’” Offering a taste of the humor that pervades his monologue, White adds, “I had always wanted to tell the story of my battle with clinical depression … because first of all, I thought, ‘that’s going to be a laugh riot!’” more

By Nancy Plum

Princeton University Concerts opened its 127th season last Thursday night with an old musical friend presenting a free live digital performance launched over YouTube. The Takács Quartet, which has appeared on the PU Concerts series 20 times in the past, broadcast a live performance from Chautauqua Auditorium on the campus of the University of Colorado, Boulder, where the string quartet is based. In Thursday night’s program, violinists Edward Dusinberre and Harumi Rhodes, violist Richard O’Neill, and cellist András Fejér presented an unusual concert spanning 250 years and including individual movements of some of the ensemble’s favorite works.

The Takács Quartet began the concert with the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, whose string quartets are popular staples of chamber repertory. Mozart’s 1783 String Quartet No. 15 in D minor showed a strong influence of the composer’s mentor, Franz Josef Haydn, while allowing the four instrumentalists to explore their own musical personalities. The second of six string quartets Mozart dedicated to Haydn, this work moved away from Mozart’s chipper major keys to the key of D minor — a harmonic center Mozart reserved for such dark and ominous drama as Don Giovanni and the deathbed Requiem. The Takács players, performing the opening “allegro moderato,” began with a fierce dark character, as cellist Fejér led the ensemble through the opening passages. O’Neill’s viola playing spoke well in the all-wood Chautauqua Auditorium and the Quartet built musical intensity uniformly with dynamic swells well executed throughout the movement.

Like Mozart, the late 19th-century English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor died prematurely in his mid-30s but was also prolific as a young composer. While a student at the Royal College of Music, Coleridge-Taylor composed five “character pieces” for string quartet — unusual in that most repertoire for the genre is comprised of larger works. Five Fantasiestücke for String Quartet showed the influence of the Romantic Robert Schumann, with a folk element also heard in the music of Dvorák and Bartók.   more

“SAME DAY NEW MESSAGE”: This work by Phillip McConnell is part of the “Art Against Racism: Memorial.Monument.Movement” virtual exhibit, which kicks off with a Livestream Launch on Saturday, October 24 at 8 p.m. at artagainstracism.org.

“Art Against Racism: Memorial.Monument.Movement,” the nationwide virtual exhibition created to document the Black Lives Matter art movement, will kick off with a Livestream Launch on Saturday, October 24 at 8 p.m. ET. The 90-minute program, moderated by Art Against Racism founder Rhinold Ponder, will feature live and pre-recorded video of music, poetry, performance, and interviews on the themes of racial and social justice, as well as a virtual video gallery of artwork. The artists behind the artwork will talk about what motivated them and what this moment in time means, and why it is so important to vote.

To tune in to the free virtual event, visit artagainstracism.org.

Featured guests will include poet and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, who will give a spoken word performance; artist, writer, and scholar Nell Painter; Philadelphia Mural Arts founder Jane Golden; emerging rapper Echezona, whose music is a rallying cry for social change and racial justice; poets Michelle Black Smith-Tompkins, Gail Mitchell, and David Herrstrom; folk artist David Brahinsky; Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia; and Kansas City mural artist and Black Summer 2020 curator Harold Smith. There will be live video of public art from muralists in Milwaukee, Trenton, Kansas City, San Diego, Bridgeport, and Newark. more

TELL ME A STORY: Joanie Leeds is one of two storytellers booked for the popular Milk & Cookies series presented online by State Theatre NJ.

State Theatre New Jersey announces the return of the storytelling series Milk & Cookies for fall 2020. A popular State Theatre program for more than 10 years, the series will be available online.

Two programs are geared to children ages 3-10 and their families. The series begins Saturday, October 24, with storyteller Charlotte Blake Alston; followed by musician Joanie Leeds on November 14.

Alston has shared her African and African American tales with audiences from Cape Town to Carnegie Hall, at events ranging from concerts in Japan to the U.S. Presidential Inaugural festivities. For her original kids music, singer-songwriter Leeds has won first place in the USA Songwriting Competition, the Independent Music Award, Gold Parents’ Choice Award, NAPPA Gold Award, and Family Choice Award. One of the top nationally-touring kindie rock singers today, Leeds recently released her ninth studio album, All the Ladies. 

Patrons who donate will receive an email the day of the event at 10 a.m. with a link to watch the performance. The video can be viewed at any time and will be active from October 24 through December 23, 2020.  To participate, a minimum donation of $10 per event is required and gives an entire household access to a Milk & Cookies show. To donate or for more information, visit STNJ.org.

October 14, 2020

By Stuart Mitchner

Is one, on the contrary, going to take up the heart-rending and marvelous wager of the absurd?

—Albert Camus (1913-1960)

Albert Camus presents this curious challenge in the “Absurd Freedom” section of The Myth of Sisyphus (1955). What interests me is the way he seems to be moving closer to the reader here, or maybe to himself, in contrast to the prosy, contradictory first half of the full proposition he offers (“Is one going to die, escape by the leap, rebuild a mansion of ideas and forms to one’s own scale?”). The key word for me is “heart-rending” (déchirant in French).

The word shows up again, a form of it, in The Plague (1948) in reference to “the long, heart-rendingly monotonous struggle put up by some obstinate people” during “the period when the plague was gathering all its forces to fling them at the town and lay it waste.” The setting is Oran, Algeria, on the Mediterranean coast, where restrictions had been put in place preventing anyone from leaving.

A Spirit of Lawlessness

Reading The Plague in the wild and whirling weeks before the election isn’t the same experience it would have been back in March. Then the references to “a spirit of lawlessness,” with “fighting at the gates” wouldn’t have had the same impact. If I’d read the book in the spring, before the number of American deaths passed 200,000, I wouldn’t have been marking passages noting how as the death toll rose to five hundred a week “an element of abstraction, of a divorce from reality, entered into such calamities.” For the central figure in the narrative, Doctor Rieux, who sees death on a daily basis in Oran, one “grows out of pity when it’s useless”; the “feeling that his heart had slowly closed in on itself” is “his only solace for the almost unendurable burden of his days.” He wants to think that evils like the plague help men “to rise above themselves.” That’s a wager you can make, assuming that some form of empathy or urgency is being communicated by the powers that be. Otherwise “when you see the misery it brings, you’d need to be a madman, or a coward, or stone blind, to give in tamely to the plague.”

The last time I wrote about Camus was in January 2017, a week before the Inauguration (“As D-Day Looms: Einstein, Kafka and Camus Sail to Sea In a Beautiful Pea-Green Boat”). I was doing my best to be upbeat, bringing in Edward Lear’s “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat,” one of the happiest poems ever written. But I couldn’t ignore the other Lear, Shakespeare’s mad king, who brings the world down on his head because he only hears what he wants to hear no matter how evil the source and when he hears something he doesn’t want to hear, even when it’s spoken by an angel, he banishes the angel, opens the door of his kingdom to evil, and is lost.  more

By Nancy Plum

Princeton Symphony Orchestra has found a way to make live music happen — on the grounds of Princeton’s Moven Museum and Garden. For the second time this fall, a small ensemble from the Symphony presented a concert from the porch of the Moven pool house, with an audience spaced out in 50 or so “pods” on the lawn as part of a “Chamber Music in the Garden” series. 

Despite a definite chill in the air last Thursday afternoon (and its effect on the wind instruments), the five principal wind players of Princeton Symphony were clearly delighted to be back in the performing arena — their first live performance in six months. As flutist Yevgeny Faniuk, oboist Lillian Copeland, clarinetist Pascal Archer, bassoonist Charlie Bailey and hornist Jonathan Clark played the hour-long program, Princeton Symphony made concertgoers comfortable on the grass with offers of blankets and plenty of room to see the concert.

Chamber ensembles of strings or brass bring together instruments with similar sound palettes, but a quintet of winds offers a wide variety of orchestral colors and ranges. Jacques Ibert, composing in Paris in the first half of the 20th century, wrote a number of short works for theatrical productions which often used for wind quintets because of space limitations. In 1930, Ibert pulled together three of these incidental pieces to create Trois pièces brèves, a concert triptych for wind quintet. The musicians of Princeton Symphony presented these three pieces as crisp music to match the fall air, with a uniformly chipper sound and clean melodies passed among the instruments. The five players demonstrated rhythmic precision, but that did not stop them from also exhibiting their own individual joie de vivre at being back on a concert stage.   more

“THEATRE AND CIVIC ENGAGEMENT”: In partnership with the New Jersey Historical Commission, New Jersey Theatre Alliance presented “Women in New Jersey Theatre: Theatre and Civic Engagement.” Among the panelists were McCarter Theatre’s Artistic Engagement Manager Paula T. Alekson (left) and Passage Theatre’s Artistic Director C. Ryanne Domingues. (Paula T. Alekson photo by Matt Pilsner; C. Ryanne Domingues photo by Claire Edmonds)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

In partnership with the New Jersey Historical Commission, New Jersey Theatre Alliance presented Women in New Jersey Theatre: Theatre and Civic Engagement on October 8. Among the panelists were Dr. Paula T. Alekson, McCarter Theatre’s artistic engagement manager, and C. Ryanne Domingues, Passage Theatre’s artistic director.

The panel also featured Dr. Jessica Brater, assistant professor of theater and dance at Montclair State University; and Amanda Espinoza, education and community engagement manager of Two River Theater Company in Red Bank. The Alliance’s deputy director, Erica Nagel, moderated the online discussion.

“Community engagement is happening every time an audience member connects with a theater,” Brater asserts, when asked by Nagel to define “community engagement” and  “civic engagement” as the terms pertain to theater. “It can also happen when a theater partners with a community organization.”

“Civic engagement happens when a performance intersects with our role as citizens,” Brater continues, adding, “civic engagement asks artists, who are creating the performance, to move a step beyond community engagement, to a connection that prompts all involved to consider their role as citizens — and perhaps even to take civic action.” more

VIRTUAL VIRTUOSITY: Cellist Pablo Ferrandez performs as part of an October 18 Zoom concert by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra.

Cellist Pablo Ferrández returns virtually to Princeton on the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO)’s online concert broadcast Sunday, October 18 at 4 p.m.

Ferrandez is a soloist in Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1. Also on the program are Carlos Simon’s An Elegy: A Cry from the Grave, and Dmitri Shostakovich’s Chamber Symphony, an arrangement of his eighth string quartet for string orchestra by Rudolf Barshai. Edward T. Cone Music Director Rossen Milanov conducts. more

A NEW HOST: Gaten Matarazzo of “Stranger Things” fame is the host of ‘80s Online Trivia Night at the State Theatre New Jersey on October 14. (Photo by Catie Lafoon)

State Theatre New Jersey has announced actor Gaten Matarazzo — from the Netflix hit series, Stranger Things — as the host of ‘80s Online Trivia Night on Wednesday, October 14 at 7 p.m. Proceeds raised support State Theatre’s Community Engagement programs.

Known for his portrayal of Dustin on Stranger Things, Matarazzo began his career on Broadway starring in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, and later landing a role as Gavroche in Les Misérables. He’s been recognized by The Hollywood Reporter as one of the top 30 stars under the age of 30.   more

“IN CONVERSATION”: Arts Council of Princeton executive director and ceramic artist Adam Welch will discuss his work with bricks, and “how their making is a reflection on labor and art,” with Timothy M. Andrews on Tuesday, October 20 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. via Zoom.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) executive director and nationally acclaimed ceramic artist Adam Welch will be In Conversation with Timothy M. Andrews, art collector and supporter of the Arts Council’s Artist-in-Residence program on Tuesday, October 20 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

This curated series of discussions is designed to celebrate and connect those who make art and those who love art. Breaking down the barriers between artist and art-appreciator, In Conversation delves into inspiration, studio practice, and artistic aspirations. Free registration is available on artscouncilofprinceton.org. more

Master Potter Caryn Newman is moving her Annual Holiday Sale of new handmade ceramics outdoors this year. Her pottery will be displayed outside of her Ewing studio at 7 Willowood Drive on Saturday and Sunday, October 17 and 18, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment. “I have made good use of the quarantine with production of many new works in stoneware and porcelain,” said Newman. Safety precautions will be observed and visitors are required to wear masks and maintain social distancing. For more information, visit willowoodpottery.com, email caryn@willowoodpottery.com, or call (609) 203-7141. 

Paint with your pod at Color Me Mine on Saturday, October 24 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the courtyard at the Princeton Shopping Center. Choose a Halloween-themed (or other) piece, and paint outdoors under the covered walkway. $5 studio fees all day when painting a fall/Halloween item. Kids in costume get free studio fees. To ensure social distancing, reservations are required at princeton.colormemine.com.

October 7, 2020

By Stuart Mitchner

I am as American as April in Arizona.

—Vladimir Nabokov, from a 1967 interview

After citing “the flora, the fauna, the air of the Western states” as his “links to Asiatic and Arctic Russia,” the author of Lolita speaks of the “warm, light-hearted pride” he feels whenever he shows his USA passport at European frontiers.

Nabokov’s “light-hearted pride” likely dates back to his first encounter with U.S. customs in 1940 after arriving on the last boat out of Nazi-occupied France with his wife and 4-year-old son. When a customs official inspecting the luggage noticed a pair of boxing gloves (boxing lessons being one of Nabokov’s income sources when he was living in Paris), he and another official “pulled on the gloves and began playfully sparring.” In Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years, Brian Boyd writes that, “as Nabokov retold the story decades later, still enchanted by America’s easygoing, good-natured atmosphere, he repeated with delight: ‘Where would that happen? Where would that happen?’”

And where would playful, good-natured customs encounters happen in today’s America? Given the one-two punch of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s death and the Covid superspreader White House event celebrating the rush to confirm her replacement, plus the careening mix of playoff baseball in plague time and the presidential debate from hell, it’s no wonder Nabokov has joined Kafka on my bedside table.

Laughter in the Dark

It’s thanks to researching RBG’S back story that I’m writing about a “man in love with the sound of words” as Justice Ginsburg (Cornell ‘54) put it after naming Nabokov among her most influential professors. Another student in Nabokov’s Masterpieces of European Fiction course, Alfred Appel Jr., was sitting behind the Nabokovs at an Ithaca, N.Y., movie theater the night the author of Laughter in the Dark lived memorably up to the title of his 1932 novel. The film was Beat the Devil (1953), a write-it-as-you-go-along jeu d’esprit concoted by Truman Capote and John Huston. In his eye/ear-witness account (TLS October 7, 1977), Appel, the eventual editor of The Annotated Lolita (McGraw Hill 1970; Vintage 1991), remembers Nabokov’s prolonged bouts of “loud laughter” becoming so “conspicuous” that his wife Véra had to nudge him, “Volodya!” Soon it became difficult to distinguish those laughing at the film from those laughing at Nabokov’s laughter, which reached its spectacular apogee after a non sequitur delivered by Peter Lorre, with “his famous nasal whine.” As Appel describes it, Nabokov “exploded — that is the only verb — with laughter. It seemed to lift him from his seat.”  more

By Nancy Plum

For the fall portion of its 2020-2021 season, Princeton Symphony Orchestra has designed a hybrid concert schedule of virtual and live performances. The first live concert, featuring a small ensemble of brass players, took place the last week of September at Princeton’s Morven Museum and Garden. 

PSO presented its opening virtual performance this past Sunday at the ensemble’s usual concert time of 4 p.m., but instead of listening raptly in Princeton University’s Richardson Auditorium, this event’s “concertgoers” were at home gathered around desktop computers, laptops, iPads and iPhones in the Symphony’s first presentation of a “Virtual Concerts: Your Orchestra, Your Home” series. Princeton Symphony Orchestra Music Director Rossen Milanov has programmed three virtual concerts for October and November, mixing classical standards with works by contemporary composers.  

Sunday afternoon’s concert, featuring 11 string players led by Milanov, was recorded earlier this fall at Morven Museum, with instrumentalists well-spaced out in a wood-paneled room which Milanov called a “perfect” venue for these difficult performing times. Following introductory remarks by Milanov and Princeton Symphony Executive Director Marc Uys, the broadcast began with George Walker’s Lyric for Strings

American composer George Walker was a pioneer of African American musical performance in this country. The first African American graduate of the Curtis Institute, doctoral recipient from Eastman School of Music, and Pulitzer Prize winner for music, among other accolades, Walker composed a repertory of more than 90 works for orchestra, piano, strings, voice, organ, clarinet, guitar, brass, woodwinds, and chorus. He composed the one-movement Lyric for Strings at age 24, before he had achieved a number of these “firsts,” and this work has endured well over the decades. more

MUSIC ON THE DECK: Members of the American Symphony Orchestra will perform on the Morris Museum’s Upper Parking Deck on Saturday, October 17.

A string quartet featuring members of the American Symphony Orchestra will perform a program of works by Black composers as part of the Morris Museum’s outdoor Lot of Strings Music Festival on October 17 at 6 p.m. The quartet is composed of concertmaster Cyrus Beroukhim, violinist Phillip Payton, principal viola William Frampton, and cellist Alberto Parrini. more

ORCHESTRA ON THE SQUARE: Visitors to Palmer Square on the afternoon of Monday, October 12 will hear some familiar music being played as members of the Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s brass and percussion sections take part in filming some digital content.

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) will generate digital content through a planned October 12 film shoot of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare for the Common Man in the middle of Palmer Square. The rain date is October 13. more

SCULPTURE PORTRAIT: Sculptor and ceramicist Syd Carpenter investigates issues of identity, memory, and ownership of land through sculpted portraits of African American gardens and farms in “Syd Carpenter: Portraits of Our Places,” on view at the Michener Art Museum October 16 through February 28.

The Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., will present its newest exhibit, “Syd Carpenter: Portraits of Our Places,” from October 16 through February 28.

This showing of sculptor and ceramicist Syd Carpenter investigates issues of identity, memory, and ownership of land through sculpted portraits of African American gardens and farms. This is the first solo exhibition of Carpenter’s work at the Michener Art Museum.

This exhibition of 11 large-scale pieces highlights Carpenter’s connection between sculpture and the art of gardening. Carpenter, a passionate gardener, has a deep personal connection to farms and gardens that stems from her grandmother Indiana Hutson’s bountiful vegetable garden in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. During WWII, Hutson provided for her family of seven children with the produce grown in her garden. It was in the ornamental garden of her mother Ernestine Carpenter where Carpenter first experienced the satisfaction of tending the land. more

DAY OF THE DEAD: The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) will celebrate El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with socially distanced outdoor workshops beginning October 10 and running through November 7.  Participants will be invited to display their work in ACP’s “Day of the Dead Exhibition” in the Taplin Gallery from November 1-14.

Join the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) as its celebrates El Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with socially distanced outdoor workshops beginning October 10.

El Dia de los Muertos is observed in Mexico and throughout the world this time of year, where family and friends gather to remember and honor those who have died. Traditions connected with the holiday include building private altars using sugar skulls, marigolds, and favorite foods of the deceased to celebrate their lives.

Workshops will adhere to all mandated guidelines, including proper social distancing, temperature checks, and face masks. Some workshops require a few things brought from home to help ensure safety. The ACP will provide hand sanitizer for frequent use. In the event of inclement weather, workshops will be held in the spacious Solley Theater.

Saturday, October 10 from 3-5 p.m., brings “Papel Picado and Paper Flowers.” The art of cutting paper banners is a true talent in Mexico, traditionally done with chisels. Participants will make the festive tissue paper banners that flutter over every plaza, shop, and doorway during Day of the Dead. Flowers are also a large part of the holiday, gathered in bunches and placed at cemeteries. Learn how to make a bouquet of the brightly colored cempoalxochitl flowers the ACP has used to decorate their altar and the annual festival. more

Graffiti artist Leon “Rain” Rainbow shared his inspiration for his latest artwork during an unveiling and mural signing ceremony on September 21 at the Sprout U School of the Arts in Trenton. Rainbow created the mural to illustrate the blending of art and technology as people adapt to teaching and virtual learning during these challenging times. He was joined by Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, City Councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson, Sprout U School of the Arts Director Danielle Miller-Winrow and her daughter Chandler (both featured on the mural), students from the school, and members of the community. The project was sponsored by Trenton Downtown Association with funding from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and NJM Insurance Group. (Photo by Matt Pilsner)

September 30, 2020

By Stuart Mitchner

“Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever?”

—Harry Lime, in The Third Man (1949)

When President Trump recently spoke about “the very low level of deaths” America could list without those “tremendous death rates in the blue states,” his smoothly offhand tone reminded me of the Ferris wheel scene in The Third Man (1949), a film that, as Roger Ebert put it, “most completely embodies the romance of going to movies.”

In a YouTube minute I’m in Vienna, in a closed car atop the Riesenrad (the Great Wheel) high above the Prater amusement park. The first thing I hear is the smooth, soothing voice of Orson Welles as the black market racketeer man-of-mystery Harry Lime. He’s telling his old friend Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) to “look down there.” Sliding open the door, he asks, “Would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever? If I offered you twenty thousand pounds for every dot that stopped, would you really, old man, tell me to keep my money, or would you calculate how many dots you could afford to spare? Free of income tax, old man. Free of income tax — the only way you can save money nowadays.”

To look down from the top of the Great Wheel with the door open is like standing on the brink of certain death, and there’s a hint of menace in the quick downward glance Welles fires into the depths after Martins admits that he’s been in touch with police from the British Zone, who do not yet know that the accident that “killed” Harry Lime had been staged, a piece of subterfuge to flummox their investigation. They have proof that Lime has been making a fortune peddling watered down penicillin to local hospitals, where patients have been dying as a result, some of them children with meningitis. The question that prompted Harry’s philosophical disclaimer about the “dots” was “Have you ever seen one of your victims?”

I was around 11 the first time I saw that short, scary, unforgettable scene. As someone whose concept of good and evil hadn’t gotten much beyond Saturday matinee visions of cowboy heroes and villains, this was my “there are stranger things in heaven and earth” moment. I was dealing with the fact that the charming, fascinating rogue, the movie’s secret hero, had been not only blithely uncaringly making money from the deaths of kids my age but was boasting of the financial upside while hinting he might give his old pal a share of the profits.  more