March 2, 2016

art rev

“London, Waterloo Bridge” by Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980)

To D.H. Lawrence, who died on March 2,1930 at 45, a “painted landscape is the background with the real subject left out.” It’s also where “the English exist and hold their own.”

Clearly, this is a novelist speaking, as well as a poet, philosopher, essayist in many realms, revolutionary, and a painter for whom landscape is the “background to an intenser vision of life.”

Some Serious Fun

As I make my way to the Princeton University Art Museum, I imagine Lawrence by my side looking the way he did to the doctor he hosted for tea and toast only weeks before he died, “a colorful figure with bright blue coat, red hair and beard and lively blue eyes” who “made the toast himself treating the operation as though it were a serious matter and at the same time great fun” — which is how I’d like to treat the subject of this column and the current exhibit, “Pastures Green & Dark Satanic Mills: The British Passion for Landscape.” more

Anne_BalletWhen Mary Pat Robertson and her husband Michael came from New York City to Princeton in 1980, she thought she’d be retiring from her dance career. But the town, where the Robertsons moved so that he could pursue his doctorate at Princeton University, turned out to have a lot more dance to offer than she expected.

It wasn’t long before Ms. Robertson began teaching at Princeton Ballet School. Six years later, she was named the school’s director. In June, she will step down after 35 years teaching and administrating hundreds of students, some of whom have gone on to professional careers.

“I’ll miss the kids,” she said during a telephone interview last week. “But it’s time. I’ll probably do a little private coaching, and I look forward to getting back to choreography. I’ve been doing a lot of public speaking and I hope to expand that. I’m even contemplating writing a book for parents about what to look for in a ballet school.”

While ballet has played a major role in Ms. Robertson’s long career, contemporary dance has also been a focus. Before becoming the ballet school’s director, she co-founded the company Teamwork Dance and did a lot of freelance dancing and choreography. In New York, she studied the techniques of José Limón, Merce Cunningham, and Martha Graham. more

National Youth Art is celebrated during the month of March. Cranbury school student artists will be featured at the Gourgaud Gallery at Town Hall in Cranbury. The show will run from March 6-25.

Stacey Crannage, art teacher at Cranbury School, has selected art pieces from kindergarten through eighth grade to be showcased. Criteria used for selecting the Gallery artwork included technique, originality, and showcasing the student’s unique strengths and talents. Student artwork will include paintings, drawings, and sculpture, amongst others.  more

February 24, 2016

movie rev 2-24-16Jesse Owens (Stephan James) is famous for winning four gold medals at the 1936 Olympics that took place in Berlin. The track and field events in which he competed included the 100 meter dash, the 200 meter dash, the long jump, and the 4×100 meter relay race.

What makes Owens’ feat so remarkable is that he had to overcome not only racism at home but the prejudice that he encountered in Germany’s Nazi notions about Aryan whites being a master race. So, not only did he have to deal with discrimination in the States but the prejudices of Adolf Hitler (Adrian Zwicker) and the Nazis.

Directed by Stephen Hopkins (Lost in Space), Race is a biopic that has much more to offer than an account of Jesse’s historic achievements. In addition to recreating the tension surrounding each of the contests, the picture devotes considerable time to developing the protagonist’s personality.

As the film unfolds, we learn about Jesse’s roots in Cleveland, and that he was the first of his family’s ten children to attend college. When he left for Ohio State, he already had a baby (Yvanna-Rose Leblanc) with Ruth Solomon (Shanice Banton), the childhood sweetheart he would eventually wed and remain with until his death in 1980.

At the university, Jesse forged a close relationship with his track coach, Larry Snyder (Jason Sudeikis), who also served as a surrogate father. And when Snyder’s competence was being undermined by bigoted officials on the U.S. Olympic Committee, he decided to pay his own way in order to accompany his promising protege to the games in Berlin.

In Germany, Jesse was shaken to be greeted with the N-word. He was equally shocked to see signs in stores declaring “No Jews or dogs allowed.” Nevertheless, he managed to block out the madness all around him and concentrated on performing in the Olympic stadium to the best of his ability.

When Jesse, instead of the Aryan athletes, won medals, Hitler was so infuriated that he refused to shake Jesse’s hand, even though that was the proper protocol for gold medal-winners. Despite pressure from the Führer and Joseph Goebbels (Barnaby Metschurat) to follow suit, German long jumper Carl “Luz” Long (David Cross) went out of his way to embrace the champion who had been ostracized on account of his skin color. The two remained friends although Carl perished while fighting on the front lines in World War II.

Regrettably, Jesse’s reception back home wasn’t much better. Unfortunately, the White House never publicly acknowledged his remarkable achievements. The movie is an inspiring and long overdue tribute to a great patriot and African American icon.

Excellent (****). Rated PG-13 for profanity, mature themes, and ethnic slurs. In English and German with subtitles. Running time: 134 minutes. Distributor: Focus Features.

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The 88th Annual Academy Awards takes place this Sunday, February 28, 2016. The awards ceremony was first broadcast to radio in 1930 and televised in 1953. It is now seen live in more than 200 countries. This year’s ceremony will be held at the Dolby Theatre is Los Angeles and is hosted by comedian Chris Rock. The various category winners are awarded a copy of a statuette, officially called the Academy Award of Merit, which has become commonly known by its nickname, Oscar.

As an ode to the prestigious ceremony, Princeton Magazine has selected a series of unique products inspired by the nominees. To purchase, click on each product image.

Break a leg! more

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Princeton Magazine is continuing the Oscar celebration with a selection of dazzling gold products.

The Oscar gold was spread around last night with Spotlight winning Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay; Leonardo DiCaprio taking home Best Actor for The Revenant; Mark Rylance and Alicia Vikander were named best supporting actor and actress, respectively, she for The Danish Girl; and Brie Larson took the best actress prize for Room.

Shop Gold! Simply click on each product image to purchase.

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Art Nassau

The Nassau Club will host an exhibition, “Landscapes,” from March 6 to May 1 by Hopewell artist Ken McIndoe. There will be a reception on Sunday, April 3, from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Nassau Club, located at 6 Mercer Street, Princeton. Call (609) 924-0580 for exhibition hours. The show and reception are free and open to the public. The artist has been painting in New Jersey since 1960 and has been teaching a studio class at the Art Students League in New York City since 1981. He was a recipient of two New Jersey State fellowships, has exhibited frequently, and is represented in several private collections. Pictured above is McIndoe’s 22 x 30” oil on canvas titled, “Summer Clouds.”

Art Navajo

The Silva Gallery of Art at the Pennington School is hosting “Project 562: Changing the Way We See Native America,” by portrait photographer and social documentarian Matika Wilbur, until March 9. This photograph features Bahazhoni Tso of the Navajo Nation.

Princeton Theological Seminary’s (PTS) annual Joe R. Engle Organ Concert will be held on Saturday, February 27 at 7 p.m. in Miller Chapel, located on PTS’s Princeton campus. The concert is open to the public and free of charge.

Featuring Jonathan Dimmock, the organist for the San Francisco Symphony, and organist and choir director at St. Ignatius Church and Congregation Sherith Israel (both in San Francisco), as well as the Princeton Seminary Singers and the Nassau Presbyterian Church Adult Choir, the concert will include psalm-based works by J.P. Sweelinck, Felix Mendelssohn, Herbert Howells, Ralph Vaughn Williams, Albert de Kierk, Bert Batter, Cary Ratcliff, and Robert Nicholls.  more

Choral music can be a tough sell, and sometimes it takes a star to bring new audiences into the fold. The Princeton University Glee Club has been a “star” in its own right, and the “Glee Club Presents” series, begun in 2013, has packed venues on and around campus with audiences eager to hear the chorus collaborate with international performers. The University Glee Club presented the fifth concert in this series this past weekend, filling Richardson Auditorium for a joint performance with the renowned vocal ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Fresh on the heels of the Glee Club’s tour to South Africa, Saturday night’s concert showed the chorus reaching well into its own diversity, as well as the international performing arena.  more

“She’s a gutsy girl,” says Jennifer Jason Leigh. “A little bit of an animal.” Leigh’s talking about Daisy Domergue, the character she plays in Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, a supporting role that has brought her an Oscar nomination, the first of her long career. Even if she wins, it won’t excuse the Academy’s failure 20 years ago to recognize her once-in-a-lifetime performance as Sadie Flood in Georgia (1995), a film written by Leigh’s mother Barbara Turner and directed by Ulu Grosbard.

In a featurette about The Hateful Eight, producer Stacy Sher says of Daisy, “She’ll try anything, she’ll push it all the way, she’s crazy like a fox: you don’t know if you should feel sorry for her, you don’t know if you should despise her.” According to co-star Walton Goggins, “Jennifer just takes it to a place where we’re all looking at each other, did you see that? did you see what she did with that?” more

Theater revWhen Dawn Breaks, an original play created and directed by Princeton University sophomore Nico Krell, is based on 1,001 Nights, but this is an “immersive” theater experience, so you will surely get less, and more, than you expect, as the actors lead you out of your seat, onto the stage, under the stage, into dressing rooms, workroom, hallways, greenroom, lobby, and every corner of the Hamilton Murray Theater.

You will encounter, at least in part, the familiar story of Scheherazade and the brutal King Shahryar, who, in anger at his first wife’s infidelity is determined to marry a new bride each day and execute her at dawn. But after three years, Scheherazade offers herself to the king and tells him a bedtime story so captivating that he decides to postpone the execution so that he can hear the end the next day, and the stories continue for 1,001 nights.

There’s little evidence here of the stories Scheherazade tells — “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp,” “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” “The Voyages of Sinbad the Sailor” — that make up the original 1,001 Nights (sometimes called The Arabian Nights), but the story of Scheherazade (Anna Zabel); King Shahryar (Tom Dowling); her sister Dunyazade (Anastasia Repouliou); her father Jafar, who is the king’s vizier (Daniel Krane); the king’s brother Shah Zaman (Jake Hamel); Delilah, the ghost of the king’s former wife (Julia Mosby); and Azraq, a genie (Glenna Yu), is richly developed during the 70-minute production.  more

February 17, 2016

movie rev 2-17-16Oscar-winner Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine) has been challenging the power structure ever since releasing Roger & Me in 1989. That ground-breaking exposé indicted General Motors for the outsourcing of jobs which led to the devastation of his hometown of Flint, Michigan. Over the intervening years, Moore has tackled a variety of controversial topics including the Iraq War (Fahrenheit 9/11), the healthcare industry (Sicko), and the global financial crisis (Capitalism: A Love Story), to name a few.

With Where to Invade Next, he sets his sights on the subject of American imperialism. You may remember that the Bush Doctrine, announced by President George W. Bush in 2002, asserted the United States’ right to wage preemptive war whenever it was deemed in the national interest. Relying on that doctrine, Moore circumnavigates the globe visiting countries with cultural and social features that are worth emulating.

However, instead of conquest with intent to plunder, the object is to borrow ideas from the ‘invaded’ countries that might improve our quality of life. For example in France, he asks public school cafeteria chefs how they manage to serve their students such fine cuisine as compared to the fare American children are forced to settle for. And his mission in Finland is to discern why its educational system is far superior to ours, while in Italy he describes the generous employment benefits, not only for maternity leave, but for honeymoons as well.

This faux invasion mockumentary features Moore in virtually every tableau. Fortunately, his tongue-in-cheek brand of humor is frequently sublime, and his earnest arguments are often persuasive, even if the format feels a little stale.

Very Good (***). Rated R for profanity, drug use, violent images, and brief nudity. In English, Italian, French, German, Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese, and Arabic with subtitles. Running time: 110 minutes. Distributor: Dog Eat Dog Films.

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Celebrate man’s best friend. 

Princeton Magazine has hand-selected our favorite gifts for dog lovers. Check out the many Scottish terrier, French bulldog, and Labrador Retriever motifs in the form of clothing, accessories, and home decor. Simply click on each product image to purchase!

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Art_Poppies

Pinot’s Palett located on 127 Village Blvd. in Forrestal Village will be painting “Poppies à la Van Gogh” on Sunday, February 21 from noon to 3 p.m. The event is a fundraiser for the Princeton Youth Ballet (PYB). In celebration of PYB’s 10th year as the region’s premier pre-professional company, they will be bringing a new ballet, “Cinderella,” to the Princeton High School Performing Arts Center on May 14 and 15. As a not-for-profit organization, they rely on donations and volunteers to help with performance preparation and ongoing annual operational costs. All net proceeds from the event will go to PYB. Please arrive 15 minutes prior to start time. Light refreshments will be served, the event is BYOB.

I fell in love with Shakespeare watching Richard Burton play Hamlet. If there was a specific moment when I “lost my heart” (you could as easily say “found my heart”), it came in the scene where Hamlet tells the players to “speak the speech” the way he pronounces it, and “to hold, as ‘twere, the mirror up to nature.”

In an essay about his youthful love of the plays, William Dean Howells recalls feeling that “in his great heart” Shakespeare “had room for a boy willing absolutely to lose himself in him, and be as one of his creations.” I was in my early 20s when Hamlet’s rousing speech to the players brought me into Shakespeare’s “great heart” and made me feel that the man who wrote the play was in the room speaking directly to his creations. more

February 10, 2016

movie revIn 2015, Eddie Redmayne won the Best Actor Oscar for his poignant portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. In The Danish Girl, Redmayne plays another icon who is virtually upstaged onscreen by an intriguing spouse. Here, he plays Einar Wegener aka Lili Elbe (1882-1931), a Danish artist best remembered as a pioneer in the transgender movement.

Directed by Oscar winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), the film was adapted from David Ebershoff’s novel of the same name. The book is based on a fictionalized account of Lili’s life, although her sexual reassignment surgery is factual.

Redmayne’s androgynous appearance helps the movie immeasurably, as he is very convincing as a female. The picture is very timely in light of Bruce Jenner’s transformation into Caitlyn Jenner.

The picture’s point of departure is Copenhagen in the Roaring Twenties, which is where we find Einar and his wife Gerda (Alicia Vikander) both working as aspiring artists. Her preference is portraiture, while he’s only been inspired to paint the same desolate landscape marked by a clump of spindly, barren trees.

Things change when Gerda suggests that he serve as a stand-in for the model (Amber Heard) whom she was supposed to paint that day. Einar dons female attire and finds himself enjoying the experience more than he expected.

Next thing you know, he’s secretly slipping out into public in drag and even attends a soiree where he attracts an ardent admirer (Ben Whishaw) who is probably unaware of Lili’s true gender. The pair’s ensuing courtship eventually mushrooms into passion, and the scandalous infidelity puts a strain on Einar and Gerda’s marriage.

Nevertheless, the movie’s main feature is the historic decision for Einar to undergo the world’s first sex change operation. Redmayne would be the favorite to win another Academy Award for Einar’s seamless metamorphosis into Lili, if he hadn’t just received one a year ago.

Excellent (****). Rated R for sexuality and nudity. Running time: 120 minutes. Distributor: Focus Features.

feature web

This time of year calls for something different to change-up the routine. Why not dash off to a warm weather getaway to indulge in some yoga, fine dining, and relaxation? Below, Princeton Magazine offers up some suggestions. Simply click on each product image to purchase. Bon voyage!

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Thoughts of Valentine’s Day bring back a song I knew by heart when I was growing up. No wonder, the way my parents kept playing Nat King Cole’s recording of “Nature Boy.” They were addicted to it; so was everyone; the whole country was enthralled by the “strange enchanted boy who wandered very far, very far over land and sea.” The voice was already a pleasant part of our family’s life because of Cole’s “Christmas Song.” Now the same warm smooth deeply familiar voice that sang of chestnuts and yuletide carols and mistletoe was making me feel things I’d never felt before, exciting my imagination with dreams of distant lands and magic days, with a message about loving and being loved that was more appealing than the lessons I learned in school. more

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Celebrate the Year of the Monkey with Red-Colored Gifts!

In traditional Chinese art and culture, red is considered to be a very auspicious color. For example, monetary gifts are often packaged in red envelopes signifying fortune and good luck. In honor of 2016’s Year of the Monkey, Princeton Magazine has chosen to shop red! Simply click on each product image to purchase and bring a little luck into your own life. more

Artworks DirectorWhen Lauren Otis was approached about becoming executive director of ARTWORKS, the Trenton visual art center, he was hesitant at first. “I thought long and hard about it,” said Mr. Otis, who served on the organization’s board from 2009 to 2014 and has been active in several of its programs. “I felt I almost knew too much. I knew how big a job it was.”

But ultimately, he couldn’t resist the opportunity to have a leading role in a movement he feels passionate about: furthering the arts in Trenton. Where some see blight and decay on the capital city’s streets, Mr. Otis sees artistic opportunity. “I am a true believer. I’ve given lectures on the subject,” he said. “There is this negative public story. But those of us in the arts see this incredible flowering of creativity. It’s not just street art or mural art. There are also interesting events going on all over the city that are driven by art.”

It was Mr. Otis who founded the popular Art All Day, an ARTWORKS-sponsored event each November where Trenton artists open their studios to the public. It is a cousin of the wildly successful Art All Night weekend, a 10-year-old event that draws thousands to a former Roebling Steel factory in Trenton every June. more

Hun Art

“CANDYLAND”: Hun School student artist Carmel Monkton ’16 received a Gold Key Award from The Scholastic Art and Writing Awards for her painting “Candyland.

Hun School artists Carmel Monckton ’16, Baiyi ‘Rebecca’ Ning ’17, and Siyeh ‘Sophia’ Chung ’17 received prestigious awards for their artwork submissions to the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards [SAWA]. SAWA is the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious recognition initiative for creative teens.  more

In recent years, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra has expanded its offerings to include both a Chamber and Pops series, among others. The Pops series has been in place for more than a decade, attracting new audience members and giving the musicians a chance to explore a different genre of repertoire. This past Saturday night, the Princeton Symphony treated the audience at Richardson Auditorium to some of the “greatest hits” from the movies — just in time for Academy Awards month. more

Rider ProfA new documentary on race; written, directed, and produced by Dr. Sheena C. Howard, assistant professor of communication studies at Rider University; will have its premiere screening on February 25 at The Landmark Theatre, Ritz, and the Bourse, in Philadelphia.

Remixing Colorblind examines how the current educational system shapes national understanding of race, and by extension, race relations. These areas of racial misunderstanding are explored through in-depth conversations with faculty, administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, and young people from a variety of Historic Black Colleges/Universities, predominantly white institutions, and inner city high schools.

Remixing Colorblind is Howard’s first film. She is also scheduled to appear on NPR and WBUR Boston’s Here and Now on February 21.

To learn more, visit www.rider.edu.