December 11, 2019

“ROCKY POINT ON THE SAND”: Seascape and still life oil paintings by Christine Lafuente are on view at Morpeth Contemporary in Hopewell through January 4. The exhibition celebrates the gallery’s 20-year working relationship with the artist.

Morpeth Contemporary in Hopewell presents “Looking Into Water,” a new body of seascape and still life oil paintings by Christine Lafuente, on view through January 4. The exhibition, which explores how painting seascapes has influenced her shimmering floral arrangements, celebrates the gallery’s 20-year working relationship with Lafuente.

In her paintings of harbors, rocky coasts, and the islands of Acadia, light plays through varying atmospheres of fogs, mists, and clear sunny days. “Looking into water changes how I see nature,” says Lafuente. “It becomes abstracted and mysterious, as in the way form falls apart and coalesces again in a reflection on the water. As I begin to express this transformation in paint, I also seek to recreate this visual experience in my still life compositions. Inside a glass water-filled vase is a microcosm of how the world reveals itself in paint.” more

“REVEAL PARTY”: A close-up view of one of the objects that is part of a gallery-wide circuit creating surprising hidden sounds in the installation by artist Jess Rowland. It is on view at Hurley Gallery at Lewis Arts complex at Princeton University through January 3. (Photo courtesy of Jess Rowland)

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Visual Arts at Princeton University presents a sound installation by artist and Princeton Arts Fellow Jess Rowland in the Hurley Gallery at the Lewis Arts complex. The interactive exhibition, free and open to the public, is on view through January 3.

“Reveal Party” transforms the gallery space into one large connected audio circuit with the generation of sound created by visitors to the exhibition interacting with objects and elements created by Rowland. As the artist suggests, “Sound lives in everything. There is a power in keeping your sound potent; and an equal power in allowing it to be revealed.” more

“SACRALIZATORS”: This graphite and watercolor on paper work by Viktor Pivovarov is featured in “Dialogues — Ilya Kabakov and Viktor Pivovarov: Stories About Ourselves,” on view at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers through March 28. A free exhibition celebration is Saturday, December 14, with a curator-led tour at 4 p.m., followed by a reception from 5 to 6:30 p.m.

A new exhibition invites visitors to delve into one of the hallmarks of unofficial Soviet art from the height of the Cold War. “Dialogues – Ilya Kabakov and Viktor Pivovarov: Stories About Ourselves,” on view at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers through March 28, focuses on the two artists’ work created in the format of the album: an innovative genre of visual art popularized in the 1970s by conceptual artists in Moscow. more

“SELAH”: This oil painting by Maxine Sheaffer is part of “Young Visions,” on view at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie in Cadwalader Park through January 12. The exhibition features the works of ten emerging artists.

The visions of ten emerging artists are now highlighted in the galleries of the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie in Cadwalader Park through January 12. “Young Visions” highlights the interpretations of these young, creative individuals as they balance the line between traditional, industrial, and contemporary work.

Several of the artists have shown recently in Ellarslie Open 36 as up-and-coming artists to watch. Patrick Seufert was awarded the top prize in oils for Duel Extension and Cassaundra Flor won Best in Show Overall with her large etching Aeolian Cityscape. The large, abstract paintings and sculptures of Vincent Hawley occupy the Malloy Gallery. The hyper-detailed animal portraits of Maxine Sheaffer fill the Holland Gallery. more

December 4, 2019

By Stuart Mitchner

Call me Mickey Mouse … It was  fun when you called me Mickey Mouse.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald, from The Crack-Up

First things first, I would never throw Mickey Mouse under the bus. Although I regret my failure to write about last year’s 90th anniversary of Mickey’s debut in the 1928 cartoon, Steamboat Willie, I’m using the occasion as an excuse for replaying the catchiest number at the top of the impeachment hearings hit parade. 

Anyway, since the person you “throw under the bus” apparently has to be a political crony or supporter you suddenly want nothing to do with, as in, “I hardly know the man,” I have colorful evidence of my lifelong acquaintance with Walt Disney’s ageless creation right here on the desk in a torn and tattered copy of Mickey Mouse in “The Mystery of the Double-Cross Ranch” from 1950, alongside another old friend, my falling-apart New Directions paperback of The Crack-Up, a collection of Fitzgerald’s writings edited by his friend and Princeton classmate Edmund Wilson.

 

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“DESIRES OF A CRIMINAL”: From left: Haley Schweitzer, Ryan Manning, Chelsi Yacone, Eva Hargis, and Hope Higginbotham in “Desires of a Criminal, a Devised Theatrical Collage,” an original play based on the works of Jean Genet, to be performed by MCCC Theatre students December 5-6 at the college’s Studio Theatre. (Photo by Abigail Acolia)

Desires of a Criminal, a Mercer County Community College (MCCC) student performance that will soon move to a national stage, will be presented for three nights only, December 5-7, on MCCC’s West Windsor Campus.

Desires of a Criminal, a Devised Theatrical Collage, a thought-provoking original play, will be performed at the college’s Studio Theatre, adjacent to Kelsey Theatre on MCCC’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road. All shows are at 7:30 p.m.

Entirely researched and crafted by the students from scratch, Desires of a Criminal is inspired by French playwright, poet, and novelist Jean Genet, who was a petty criminal in his youth and spent time in jail before being discovered by some well-known writers who lobbied for his release. According to MCCC Theatre, Dance, and Entertainment Technology Coordinator Jody Gazenbeek-Person, the production addresses issues regarding mass incarceration, and presents the message in a non-linear progression. more

UNHOLY TRINITY: Two Christmas Eves after Dickens’ famous tale, conspirators Fred (Chris Capitolo, left), Jeremiah Marley (James Cordingley, center), and Bob Cratchit (Ken Ammerman) consider what terrors the night may hold in ActorsNET’s “The Christmas Carol Conspiracy: Scrooge’s Revenge,” which runs December 6-22 at the Heritage Center Theatre, 635 North Delmorr Avenue, Morrisville, Pa. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. For tickets and more information, call (215) 295-3694 or email actorsnet@aol.com.

You may know the familiar tale of A Christmas Carol —three spirits visit miserly Ebenezer Scrooge and inspire him to change his ways — but what if it was all a hoax? A scam? A fraud?

That’s the premise behind ActorsNET’s staging December 6–22 of Joe Doyle’s comedic holiday farce, The Christmas Carol Conspiracy: Scrooge’s Revenge. In this version, a year after the familiar story, Scrooge learns his Nephew Fred and the Cratchits used actors and stage effects to trick him into becoming kind and generous. When word leaks out of the ruse, Scrooge finds himself the laughingstock of London and vows to get revenge. more

CHILD-FRIENDLY “NUTCRACKER”: Shannon Garlotti and Mother Ginger Dancers perform in the Dance Connection’s one-hour version of the holiday classic, at Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre on December 13 at 7 p.m. and December 14 and 15 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. The fully narrated and abridged ballet is danced entirely by children and teens, and is designed to be enjoyed by every member of the family.

Dolls and sweets come to life and mice and toy soldiers do battle in the Dance Connection’s child-friendly version of the holiday classic The Nutcracker at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) Kelsey Theatre.

Performances are December 13 at 7 p.m. and December 14 and 15 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Kelsey Theatre is located on MCCC’s West Windsor Campus, 1200 Old Trenton Road.

The Dance Connection’s one-hour version of this fully narrated and abridged Tchaikovsky ballet is danced entirely by children and teens, and is designed to be enjoyed by every member of the family. At the conclusion of the show, families are invited on stage to meet their favorite characters, who will be available to sign autographs. more

“MURDER IN THE 4-0”: Former New York Times photojournalist Edwin J. Torres captured images in the wake of tragedy in New York City, along with residents of the same community enjoying their everyday lives. Both sides come together in the photo exhibit, on display at Mercer County Community College’s James Kerney Campus Gallery in Trenton through January 20.

Balancing tragedy and sadness with joy is the focus of “Murder in the 4-0,” an exhibit by former New York Times photojournalist Edwin J. Torres, at Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) James Kerney Campus Gallery (JKCG) through January 20.

“This show is actually two-bodies of work made simultaneously,” said Michael Chovan-Dalton, JKCG director. “One was assigned and the other was done for personal reasons. It is a great example of how powerful the photographic document still is in shaping our perception of place and people.”

Torres notes that while he was working for the New York Times, he was assigned a year-long project documenting how crime persisted in New York City in spite of record low crime rates. The project required him to document each and every homicide in the neighborhood where he grew up, a task that took an emotional toll. more

Sponsored by Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS), professional and amateur photographers alike are encouraged to take their best shot of all that the Mountain Lakes Preserve has to offer, and submit a photo to the Give Thanks for Nature Photo Contest for a chance to win a $100 REI gift card courtesy of REI Princeton and FOPOS. Additional prizes include a $50 REI gift card (second place) and $25 REI gift card (third place). Entries must be submitted by midnight, December 31, 2019, via email to photos@fopos.org, with “2019 Photo Contest” in the subject line. Winners will be contacted by January 30, 2020. For questions, contact photos@fopos.org. (Photo by Samuel Vovsi)

November 27, 2019

By Stuart Mitchner

To screen out the screeching of the train wheels, I’d pull out my CD player and plug in earphones, to listen to the only music that I could tolerate during these years: Beethoven’s late quartets.
—Elaine Pagels, from Why Religion?

For all the time I spend consulting, exploring, exploiting the oracles of the internet, as often as not I find what I’m looking for, in material form, among the oracles shelved at the Princeton Public Library.

Sometimes the oracle offers more than I counted on, as happened recently when I opened a copy of Why Religion? A Personal Story (Ecco 2018) to the passage where Elaine Pagels recalls the aftermath of her six-year-old son’s death, a time “when professions of faith in God sounded only like unintelligible noise, heard from the bottom of the sea.” Looking through the window of the train bound from Penn Station to Princeton, where she had accepted a teaching position at the University, she sees “lots dense with weeds and paper, cans, tricycles left in the rain, plastic wading pools,” and “swing sets, some with ropes dangling loosely, the seats down.” The imagery of backyards haunted by the playthings of absent children frames the questions that follow: “Why did this happen? Why to this child? Why to any child, any person?”

It’s at this point that the author looks to Beethoven’s late quartets, her preferred remedy for discord in “body and mind … separate islands of feeling, sharp with pain, interspersed with patches where feeling had numbed, wholly blocked. … Since my arteries felt tangled and separate, in danger of disintegrating, I felt that only the strands of that music could help weave them together again, perhaps could bring, for moments, a semblance of integration and order.”

Standing book in hand on the library’s second floor study area, reading and rereading that raw, visceral account of the healing power of music, I decided to take the book home, already sensing the theme it was leading me to, as if the title had changed from Why Religion? to Why Beethoven? or, more to the point, Why Music? The oracle had given me an answer I needed but didn’t know I was looking for. Isn’t this what books and libraries are all about?  more

By Nancy Plum

Ideally, the mission of any university includes expanding the horizons of its students, and the members of the Princeton University Glee Club have been achieving that goal well in recent years. Under the leadership of Gabriel Crouch, the Glee Club has collaborated with ensembles from far corners of the world, including South Africa and the former Eastern European countries.

Last week, the 90-member Glee Club hosted a visit from the all-male Ensemble Basiani, touring the United States from the former Soviet region of Georgia, introducing audiences to the rich polyphonic tradition of this area. In a Princeton University Concerts program last Monday night, the 12-member Ensemble Basiani, led by director Zurab Tskrialashvili, entertained the audience at the Princeton University Chapel with a wide variety of a cappella sacred and secular choral works from seven centuries of musical history. more

NATURE’S LAST GASPS: In the documentary film “Soundtracker,” part of a series at Hopewell Theater, an Emmy-winning sound recordist tries to capture the vanishing sounds of nature.

Hopewell Theater’s ongoing “The Art of Living Well” series features films, speakers, and interactive discussions exploring ways to cultivate serenity, meaning, and a deeper connection to one’s self and the world, through February. Hopewell Theater is at 5 South Greenwood Avenue in Hopewell Borough. more

The premiere of Gay People Princeton, a documentary tracing the history of the community’s first gay rights organization, will be screened Friday, December 13 at 7 p.m. at the Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, 21 Wiggins Street.

The film features interviews, original images, and recollections of early members. Founded in 1972 by undergraduates, the Gay Alliance of Princeton gathered together Princeton University students, workers, and faculty; local townsfolk; and greater community members to come out and declare their identity. After two years, Gay People Princeton, a separate organization for the community, emerged out of it, forging a way for the future.

This event spotlights a new archive of materials that captures the history of Gay People Princeton. Co-sponsored by the Historical Society of Princeton, Bayard Rustin Center for Social Justice, and filmmaker and early member of the Gay Alliance of Princeton, Frank Mahood, this event spotlights a new archive of materials that captures the history of Gay People Princeton.

Seating is limited. To register, visit https://princetonhistory.org/events/gay-people-princeton-documentary-film-premiere/.

Alex Mitnick brings his band, Alex & The Kaleidoscope, to the Arts Council of Princeton December 15. The “Holiday Family Jam” is from 3-4:30 p.m. at 102 Witherspoon Street. Tickets are $15. Visit artscouncilofprinceton.org to purchase.

JAZZ AND MORE: Jazz pianist Phil Orr will open the Holidays at Westminster festival of holiday music with “Jingle Bell Jazz” on Sunday, December 8 at 3 p.m. at Westminster Choir College. (Photo credit: Michael Haworth)

The Holidays at Westminster festival of holiday music begins with a performance by jazz pianist Phil Orr on Sunday, December 8 at 3 p.m. in the Robert L. Annis Playhouse on the Westminster Choir College campus.

“Phil Orr and More: Jingle Bell Jazz” features Orr, joined by Michael O’Brien on bass, and Sean Dixon on drums. They will perform traditional favorites such as “Jingle Bells,” “Carol of the Drums,” and “All I Want for Christmas is You,” plus other holiday favorites in swing, post-bop, Brazilian, Afro-Latin, New Orleans, and even klezmer-infused jazz styles. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. more

“CITYSCAPE”: Leon Rainbow, whose work is shown here, has brought a group of premier graffiti artists together to showcase their work in “Urban Architecture,” on view at Princeton Day School’s Anne Reid ‘72 Art Gallery December 2 through January 9. An opening reception is December 12 from 5-7 p.m.

Making the dean’s list multiple times at Mercer County Community College while studying with retired professor and renowned painter Mel Leipzig, California native Leon Rainbow has always been hungry to learn. A firm believer in education, he has taught at Princeton’s Young Achievers, TerraCycle, and at countless workshops from New York to Washington, D.C., to Florida. Rainbow says, “I encourage my students to make the most of their educational experiences. The more education and skills you possess, the more valuable you will be.” more

WILLOWOOD POTTERY: Local master potter Caryn Newman will open her studio at 7 Willowood Drive, Ewing, to the public on Saturday and Sunday, December 7 and 8, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the annual holiday show and sale of her new ceramic works. For more information, visit www.willowoodpottery.com.

Local master potter Caryn Newman opens her studio to the public on Saturday and Sunday, December 7 and 8 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment, for the annual sale of new ceramics. more

November 20, 2019

By Stuart Mitchner

God has sent his creatures into the world with arms long enough to reach anywhere if they could be put to the trouble of extending them.
—Thomas Chatterton 1752-1770

It seems that the long arms of Wordsworth’s “marvelous boy” have reached into the second decade of the 21st century. While I’ve been unable to learn whether the saying attributed to Chatterton was of his own making or simply, as one source says, “one of his favorite maxims,” the very idea that the authorship is in question accords with his legend. If he seems an unlikely time traveler, he has a claim on this particular day, having been born in the city of Bristol on November  20, 1752. It’s also hard to imagine a figure from the past more relevant to the hoax-and-witch-hunt chaos of this fake-news-conspiracy-theory-tainted age than the 15-year-old who invented a 15th-century poetry-writing priest named Thomas Rowley, fabricating Rowley’s Middle English manuscripts artfully enough to convince certain literary authorities that his forgeries were authentic.

Better Than Marvelous

Any thought of devoting an entire column to Chatterton came to an abrupt end last Friday. The marvelous boy was no match for the marvelous woman who, in the words of the New York Times, had been “Plunged Into the War Zone of U.S. Politics.”

Not that I would have called Marie Yovanovitch “marvelous,” a word I seldom use. She was better than that, better than the infectious superlative William Wordsworth and Cole Porter put into the transcendental conversation. Was she beautiful? strong? quietly compelling? She was better. She was sympathetic. The beauty was in her bearing, her poise, her integrity, the way she made her case, told her story, weathered the patronizing tone of interrogators doing their polite best to avoid taking her seriously.  more

“SORTA RICAN”: Passage Theatre has continued its Solo Flights series with “Sorta Rican.” Written and performed by Miss Angelina (above) and directed by Laura Grey, the musical monologue depicts the performer’s search for her cultural identity. (Photo by Rachel Kenaston)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Passage Theatre has continued its Solo Flights series with Sorta Rican, which was presented November 15-17. Written and performed by actor and recording artist Miss Angelina, this autobiographical monologue is a musical odyssey that humorously follows the singer’s quest to connect with her identity as a Latina.

Miss Angelina is a rapper who has released two albums, and has costarred in a music web series that has been featured on the television series American Latino. She has been touring with Sorta Rican since 2015, presenting it at venues such as the Hard Rock Café (San Juan), Broadway Comedy Club (NYC), and Improv Olympic Theater (LA).

The show itself is a tour. The journey starts with the monologist’s upbringing as part of an immigrant family in Little Silver, New Jersey. From there we follow her to New York City (where she lives in Washington Heights), Miami, and San Juan. These all are places that Miss Angelina visits in the course of a search for her cultural heritage. Along the way she encounters disparate preconceptions about what it means to be a Puerto Rican and/or a Latina. more

Roxey Ballet presents Mark Roxey’s production of “Nutcracker” at The College of New Jersey’s Kendall Theater in Ewing November 28-December 8. Santa will visit, and Princeton Pro Musica will perform at intermission. The November 30, 1 p.m. performance is sensory-friendly for those with special needs. Visit www.roxeyballet.org for more details and ticket information.

McCarter Theatre’s production of “A Christmas Carol” returns December 10-29. Cowering at the top of the steps is Greg Wood, who returns to play Ebeneezer Scrooge, shown here with Adele Batchelder in the 2018 production. Visit mccarter.org for tickets. (Photo by Mark Garvin)

“VIOLET SERIES III”: This painting by Wanyu Guo is featured in “Delayed Choice: Chinese New-Generation Female Artists,” on view through November 22 at the Numina Gallery at Princeton High School. The exhibit showcases works by 18 women artists trained at the Central Academy of Fine Arts and the Academy of Arts and Design of Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

On view through November 22 at the Numina Gallery at Princeton High School (PHS), 151 Moore Street, “Delayed Choice: Chinese New-Generation Female Artists” is an exhibition of original fine art by 18 women artists trained at the Central Academy of Fine Arts and the Academy of Arts and Design of Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. It is the first group exhibition of young female Chinese artists in the United States.

The exhibition, which celebrates the 40th anniversary of formal U.S.-China diplomatic relations, showcases work by Jia Chu, Rui Feng, Tianshu Gong, Wanyu Guo, Nan Hu, Yanhe Liu, Ying Liu, Yiran Wang, Yu Wang, Yujing Wang, Huanpan Xie, Huichao Yang, Huimin Yang, Wen Zhang, Zijia Zhang, Qinyu Zheng, and Qianyin Zhuo.

The artists play with the concept of time and tradition. The exhibition demonstrates traditional Chinese art forms while integrating more contemporary Western styles. Each artist intertwines ideas of society, gender, and culture in their work, providing a relevant new perspective for a modern international and intercultural world. more

“PORTRAITS OF PRESERVATION”: Watercolor paintings by award-winning artist James Fiorentino will be featured at D&R Greenway Land Trust December 6 through February 28. The show highlights the landscapes and wildlife found on the acres and properties permanently preserved by D&R Greenway since its founding 30 years ago.

D&R Greenway Land Trust continues the celebration of its 30th year with a new, traveling exhibit, “Portraits of Preservation,” based on watercolor paintings by award-winning artist James Fiorentino. The exhibit highlights the landscapes and wildlife found on 20,865 acres and 308 properties permanently preserved by the D&R Greenway since its founding three decades ago.

The exhibit will launch on December 6 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. with an opening reception featuring an artist talk and special guests. The exhibit will remain on display at the Johnson Education Center weekdays through February 28, after which it will travel to other locations throughout Central New Jersey and surrounding states. more

“CACHE-CACHE, MON AMOUR”: This mixed media encaustic collage by Marla N. Powers is part of the West Windsor Arts Council’s “Off the Wall: An Affordable Art Sale,” a juried exhibition and art sale on view through December 20 at the West Windsor Arts Center in Princeton Junction.

The West Windsor Arts Council presents the work of over 100 artists in “Off the Wall: An Affordable Art Sale.” The juried exhibition is open to the public through Friday, December 20. As an affordable art sale, artwork is offered at prices from $50 to $400. Artworks may be literally taken off the wall at the time of purchase.

“This is the ninth ‘Off the Wall’ art show and it grows in quality and excitement each year,” said Aylin Green, executive director of the West Windsor Arts Center. “This was our biggest year yet in terms of the number of works submitted for consideration. The exhibition committee did a great job selecting the work. I know it was a difficult thing to do, but, ultimately, the variety of works, all priced under $400, is impressive. I’ve got my eye on two or three.”

Marla Powers’ artwork is representative of the unique art in various mediums and styles that one can see in this show. Powers’ art is influenced by her background in anthropology and her studies of the art of the Lakota people in South Dakota and the Pueblo people in New Mexico. Powers focuses on creating artwork that allows the viewer to sense the movement and energy of the subject matter. This fluidity is evident in Powers’ work cache-cache, mon amour which she created using encaustic collage and mixed media. more