March 20, 2019

“VOICES OF THE MARSH”: This photo by Maria Reim is featured in an exhibit showcasing photography of the Abbott Marshlands, on view now through September 15 at the Tulpehaking Nature Center in Hamilton.

“Voices of the Marsh,” a public art exhibit showcasing photography of the Abbott Marshlands, is on display through September 15 at the Tulpehaking Nature Center in Hamilton. more

TROUBLE IN KINGSTON: Ami Ameen stars as Dennis “D” Campbell, who is out to avenge the murder of the older brother who raised him, in “Yardie,” the directorial debut of actor Idris Elba. (Photo courtesy of Rialto Pictures)

By Kam Williams

Dennis “D” Campbell (Aml Ameen) grew up in the slums of Kingston, Jamaica, in the seventies in a neighborhood infested with drugs. Orphaned at an early age, he was raised by an older brother he admired, Jerry (Everaldo Creary).

Besides serving as a surrogate father, Jerry was a peacemaker who risked his life pressuring the gangs ruining the community to end their bloody turf war. But Dennis was left traumatized at 13 when his sibling was shot and killed by Clancy (Raheem Edwards), a young member of the Tappa crew. more

March 13, 2019

But if, for instance, I read a good book … it rouses me, satisfies me, suffices me.
–Franz Kafka (1883-1924)

Beginning Friday morning Princeton Day School will become a vast encampment of the homeless, with some 80,000 supplicants looking to be adopted and appreciated, and perhaps passed on to a comfortable, fulfilled life in distinguished surroundings. The southern border is a trumpian tempest in a teapot compared to the numbers of refugees seeking asylum at the Bryn Mawr Wellesley Book Sale.

Of course it’s nonsense, the idea that hard-nosed dealers, bibliophiles, and obsessive collectors will be paying $25 for the heartwarming satisfaction of giving homes to lifeless entities they actually intend to resell at a profit, or may never read, or may keep only to show off as collector’s ornaments. Still and all, “homeless” is the message spelled out when the doors close on the last day of the sale with multitudes ignored, abandoned, unwanted, scattered naked and alone on the tables, unclaimed after five hours at ten bucks a box.

Kafka’s Here

One author whose books usually find a home with patrons at the BMW sale is Franz Kafka. Most writers want to be read. For them there’s an element of truth in the homeless trope. Kafka, on the other hand, asked Max Brod to burn all his writings after his death, which would have consigned The Castle and The Trial to Borges’s “Library of Babel,” where “it is enough that a book be possible for it to exist.”    more

By Nancy Plum

One musical bright spot after every winter in Princeton is the spring concert of the Princeton University Orchestra, when the ensemble presents winners of its annual Concerto Competition for undergraduate students. As evidenced by the audience reaction in this past weekend’s concert at Richardson Auditorium, this year’s winners have not been squirreled away practicing to the expense of everything else, but are fully participating in the Princeton University experience, with armies of friends who came to support them in their solo performances. Four of this year’s winners performed with the University Orchestra Friday night (the concert was repeated Saturday night), demonstrating musical poise, technical dexterity, and the culmination of their enormous capacity for hard work.  more

Princeton Ballet School, the official school of American Repertory Ballet, has announced the naming of the Princeton Spine and Joint Center Studio at its Princeton headquarters, located at Princeton Shopping Center.

“We are grateful to Dr. Ana Bracilovic and her husband, Dr. Grant Cooper, co-directors of the Princeton Spine and Joint Center, for their generosity, passion, and belief in our mission,” said Julie Diana Hench, executive director of American Repertory Ballet. “This partnership furthers our commitment to ensuring that our dancers receive a holistic dance education, including a broader understanding of health, wellness, and injury prevention.”

Princeton Spine and Joint Center has been caring for Princeton Ballet School dancers for years, and will now be recognized as an official health care provider for the School. In addition, Dr. Bracilovic will participate in upcoming “On Pointe” events that are free and open to the public: “Dancing Your Way into College,” a panel discussion on March 15, and “Physical Therapy: Taking Care of the Young Dancer’s Body” on May 3.  more

Continuing McCarter Theatre’s tradition of producing socially relevant work that engages with the central questions of our culture, McCarter has partnered with Princeton University’s Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies (PIIRS) on The Migration Plays, a new initiative focusing on the nature of migration, how it is represented culturally, and the ways in which it shapes the world around us. 

McCarter has commissioned five playwrights — Adam Gwon, Martyna Majok, Heather Raffo, Mfoniso Udofia, and Karen Zacarías — to write a series of short plays inspired by the research and programming of the PIIRS Migration Lab and its Mellon funded Sawyer Seminar, “Global Migration: The Humanities and Social Sciences in Dialogue.”  Since the spring of 2018, these five playwrights have engaged with the Migrations Lab by attending seminars and symposia, meeting with scholars, and exploring the Princeton campus to create pieces with unique and personal perspectives on migration.  more

On Tuesday, May 7, David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, will sit down with the author and two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Caro for a live taping of “The New Yorker Radio Hour,” the radio program and podcast from The New Yorker and WNYC Studios. The conversation will take place before a live audience at McCarter Theatre.

Caro will discuss his forthcoming book, Working, plus his epic biography of President Lyndon Johnson, the state of the presidency today, and more.

“The New Yorker Radio Hour” is a weekly program presented by Remnick and produced by WNYC Studios and The New Yorker. Each episode features a diverse mix of interviews, profiles, storytelling, and an occasional burst of humor inspired by the magazine, and shaped by its writers, artists, and editors. more

“POLAR VORTEX BEAUTY”: This photograph by Bridget Davis was chosen as the winner of the Delaware River Basin Commission’s Winter 2018-2019 Photo Contest. The Spring Photo Contest will begin on March 20, and has a deadline of May 15. For more information, visit www.nj.gov/drbc/basin/photo/photo-contest.

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) announced that Bridget Davis’ photograph, titled Polar Vortex Beauty, was chosen as the winner of the commission’s Winter 2018-2019 Photo Contest. Forty photographs were submitted by 14 individuals for the contest.

“I always have my camera with me and enjoy photographing the amazing wildlife and beautiful scenery of this area along the West Branch Delaware River,” said Bridget Davis of Deposit, N.Y. “The recent polar vortex made for some fantastic photographs; I felt sorry for the geese, but they didn’t appear to mind the cold.” more

“RIVERSIDE SILOS/SHAPING SPACES”: Photographs by Ricardo Barros and sculpture by Autin Wright will be featured in a dual exhibition on view March 23 through May 4 at the Arts Council of Princeton’s Taplin Gallery. An artist talk is Saturday, March 23 from 2-3 p.m., followed by an opening reception from 3-5 p.m.

The Arts Council of Princeton presents “Riverside Silos/Shaping Spaces,” a dual exhibition by photographer Ricardo Barros and sculptor Autin Wright. This installation addresses volume — the space a substance occupies — in various ways through light, shadow, and form.

“You could say we’re focusing on the same subject, but seeing it through different lenses,” says Princeton resident Barros.

“Or,” Wright adds, “We’re both pursuing a sculptural vision. Mine results in a three-dimensional sculpture. Ricardo works with similar forms to produce a two-dimensional photograph.” more

“ANIMAL EXPO”: Animal art and accompanying essays by students of Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart are on display through April 12 at D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Olivia Rainbow Gallery, One Preservation Place, Princeton.

D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Olivia Rainbow Gallery presents “Animal Expo,” art by students of Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, through April 12. In this imaginative, interdisciplinary project, teachers from different subject areas collaborated to create multi-faceted learning experiences for junior kindergarten, first-, and third-grade pupils. Each class approached the project through social studies, STEAM, and technology. Jill Work was technology teacher for “Animal Expo,” and Elene Nickerson was the STEAM teacher. The project also emphasized language and information skills, in addition to the creative multimedia art.

Lively interpretations of animals fill the Olivia Rainbow Gallery, including creatures native to New Jersey in general and Central Jersey in particular. The young artists also crafted essays on habitat, food, interactions of their species with Lenapes of long ago, and with 21st-century humans. All addressed habitat requirements and environmental effects upon their chosen species. more

I WISH I COULD BE NEXT TO YOU: Stella (Haley Lu Richardson) and Will (Cole Sprouse), who both have cystic fibrosis, must stay a certain distance away from each other despite their growing attraction in “Five Feet Apart.” (Photo courtesy of CBS Films/Lionsgate)

By Kam William

Stella Grant (Haley Lu Richardson) is a typical 17-year-old in most regards. However, she is also suffering from cystic fibrosis (CF), a genetic disease which makes her very susceptible to a variety of breathing disorders.

Consequently, she spends much of her time in the hospital. She’s currently receiving treatment for bronchitis on a ward with several fellow CF patients, including her friend Poe (Moises Arias), although there is a strictly-enforced rule that they stay at least six feet apart at all times because they could easily infect each other.  more

March 6, 2019

By Stuart Mitchner

Sometimes I think a novelist made this man up. If you were creating a fictional jazz genius, would you name him Parker or Davis or Rollins or Gillespie? Or would you name him Tristano?”

Lennie Tristano (1919-1978) is for real. He was born in Chicago 100 years ago this month, March 19, 1919, and is the subject of a long, in-depth, consummately readable chapter in Jazz Masters of the 40’s (Macmillan 1966) by jazz critic Ira Gitler, who died February 23.

The fictional possibilities jump out at you from Gitler’s opening paragraph, where Tristano is “mentor, teacher, nursemaid, and confidant of a small cell of young musicians.” Outsiders are “apt to name the hypnotist Svengali when describing Tristano, although he has been totally blind since the age of 10.” Picture a blind Svengali also known as “the witch doctor” and you begin to see the novelistic slant of the message on the cover of Gitler’s book: “the lean days and brave nights of Bebop and the Hipster; musical revolt and intellectual curiosity; the sardonic beauty and necessary self-pity which formed the basis of Modern Jazz.”

According to Gitler, Tristano’s first job, at 11, was in an Illinois whorehouse, “downstairs at the bar.” He’d begun listening to and “fooling around with” a player piano when he was two. Imitating it, he tells Gitler, “gave me the clue.” His eyesight was weak from birth and, depending on your source, either influenza or measles left him vulnerable to total blindness. At eight he was placed in a handicapped class at a public school, and a year later he was in a state institution for the blind, where he studied piano, saxophone, clarinet, and cello and formed a band that occasionally played gigs off the grounds. At Chicago’s Conservatory of Music he wrapped up a two-year harmony course in six weeks, got his bachelor’s degree in three years, and his master’s in a year. When the school insisted that he pay $500 for the time that a full course normally takes, he turned down the diploma and began teaching his own students, as he would do for the rest of his life.  more

By Nancy Plum

The Princeton Singers continued its long-standing collaboration with the Princeton University Art Museum this past weekend with a performance tied to the Museum’s current “Family Album” exhibit of 18th-century British painter Thomas Gainsborough. Princeton Singers Artistic Director Steven Sametz led the professional chamber vocal ensemble in a program of British a capella choral music spanning more than six centuries. Performing in varied configurations in the Museum’s medieval gallery, The Singers made full use of the unusual space and complementary acoustics in bringing music of “This Sceptered Isle” to life.

The Princeton Singers’ late Saturday afternoon performance (the concert was repeated later Saturday night) was centered on a five-part work by 16th-century English composer William Byrd. Byrd bridged the Protestant and Catholic music traditions while composing several settings of the Catholic liturgical mass at a time when it was politically dangerous to do so. Sametz built Saturday’s concert around Byrd’s late 16th-century Mass for Four Voices, interspersing secular works of British choral music among the mass movements.

With interesting trivia-laden and informative introductions to each selection, Sametz illustrated his programming concept for this eight-work concert. The chorus opened with a “Pastyme with Good Company,” with music and text likely by King Henry VIII, who apparently had time for composing amidst his many wives. The Singers generated a very bright sound in the space of the gallery, with a joyous and chipper choral tone aided by uniform vowel production among all singers. more

“COWBOY VERSUS SAMURAI”: Performances are underway for “Cowboy Versus Samurai.” Presented by Theatre Intime and the East West Theater Company at Princeton University, and directed by Jacy Duan ‘21, the play runs through March 9 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Veronica (Megan Pan ’22, left) and Travis (Richard Peng ’20) have much in common. However, Veronica’s romantic preferences exacerbate Travis’ insecurities about his identity, presenting obstacles to the development of their relationship. (Photo by Naomi Park ’21)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Things in nature always hide. Lizards change the color of their skins. Moths live or die based on the color of their wings,” muses Del, a high school P.E. teacher who is Caucasian. “They do these things because when you stand out in the world you invite danger. You … will be eaten alive by something that was waiting for you to show yourself. And that’s how I felt, standing like a shadow on your outskirts, invisible.”

This poetic monologue turns out to be one of many letters written, on Del’s behalf, to Veronica Lee, an intelligent and charming Asian American woman who has recently moved to the small town of Breakneck, Wyoming, to teach biology. The author of the letters is Travis Park, an English teacher who is Del’s friend and colleague, and the only Korean American man in Breakneck. Travis loves Veronica, but she prefers to date white men.

Theatre Intime and the East West Theater Company of Princeton University are presenting a talented production of Cowboy Versus Samurai. Michael Golamco, a playwright of Filipino and Chinese American descent, crafts this witty but moving romantic comedy as a contemporary re-imagining of Cyrano de Bergerac. more

American Repertory Ballet (ARB) will host its annual gala, “An Enchanted Castle Soirée,” inspired by the company’s world premiere of Kirk Peterson’s Beauty and the Beast, on Saturday, March 9, at 6 p.m. at the Pines Manor in Edison. The fundraiser will honor Christine Zoffinger, Erika Mero, and Joshua Zinder.

Guests will enjoy a French-inspired dinner, silent auction, and dancing alongside artists of American Repertory Ballet. Radio broadcaster Bert Baron, host of “Jersey Central with Bert Baron,” on WCTC (1450AM) will be the master of ceremonies.

The primary goal of the fundraiser is to raise money for ARB’s merit and need-based scholarship program, which awarded more than $200,000 in scholarships last year. The fundraiser will also enable the organization to present professional ballet productions such as Beauty and the Beast and American Made: Paul Taylor and Other Works, which will be performed this spring in New York City. more

Three Princeton University seniors will present a devised work of original poetry, music, dance, and drama that explores the circumstances and issues of black female students at Princeton on March 8, 9, 13, and 14 at the Wallace Theater in the Lewis Center for the Arts on the campus.

The piece was developed through seven vignettes developed through workshops, such as innocence, exclusion, privilege, social climbing, colorism and sexism in dating, trauma and healing, and “black girl magic.” The three students are  Feyisola Soetan, who wrote the piece based on her anthropological research; Janelle Spence, who is directing; and Jessica Bailey, who is choreographing.

Performances are March 8, 9, 13 and 14 at 8 p.m.; and March 10 at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Visits tickets.princeton.edu for information.

ART MAKING DAYS: This year’s free Art Making Day events will take place at four locations: at Artworks Trenton on March 23 from 12 to 4 p.m.; and at Artworks Trenton, the Boys & Girls Club Centre Street Clubhouse, the Trenton Free Public Library, and the New Jersey State Museum on March 30 from 12 to 4 p.m.

On March 23 and 30, from 12 to 4 pm., artists of all ages, cultures, and backgrounds are welcome to fully immerse themselves in the delightful act of creating and revel in the sheer beauty of self-expression at Art Making Day. For toddlers, grandparents, and everyone in between, Art Making Day is a free event that promotes the idea that entire communities can be connected and uplifted through various forms of creative expression. more


“DICK’S BEACHER”: This work by Thom Montanari was named Best in Show — Painting at last year’s Ellarslie Open 35 juried exhibit at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion in Cadwalader Park. Art submissions for this year’s the Ellarslie Open 36 will be accepted March 15 to 17 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day. The exhibit will be on view May 4 through July 7.

The Ellarslie Open 36 Juried Exhibit will accept submissions Friday, March 15 through Sunday, March 17, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Held annually at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion in Cadwalader Park, the Ellarslie Open draws on the work of professional artists from the tristate region and beyond, while encouraging and recognizing emerging artists. Once again, 2018 broke all records for submissions. From these, the juror created a show with diverse styles, from abstract expressionism to Delaware Valley impressionist landscapes to boldly painted still lifes, Cubism, and more. There are awards and prizes in 10 categories. more

BLACK CANVAS GALA: More than 40 participating artists were given a 12” x 12” blank canvas on which to create a new work of art for this year’s Black Canvas Gala and Art Auction, to be held Saturday, March 23 from 7 to 10 p.m. at the West Windsor Art Center. Proceeds from the event will support the WWAC’s education programs and multidisciplinary arts programming.

The West Windsor Arts Council (WWAC) invites the community to participate in a unique and interactive fundraiser. The Blank Canvas Gala and Art Auction, to be held at the arts center on Saturday, March 23, from 7 to 10 p.m. It will feature original works of art created by artists in the region, and will also give guests the chance to be part of the creation of a collaborative piece of art to commemorate the evening.

As part of this invitational show, each of the more than 40 participating artists were given a 12” x 12” blank canvas on which to create a new work of art. Each will be offered for sale in support of the many activities and projects at West Windsor Arts Center. The works will range from realism to postmodernism, using all manner of mediums, including fabric, photography, acrylic paint, and found materials. more

BEST ACTRESS: Olivia Colman won an Oscar for her portrayal of Queen Anne in the revisionist saga “The Favourite.” The film was nominated for a total of 10 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. (Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight Pictures)

By Kam Williams

Queen Anne (1665-1714) was a sickly monarch whose dozen-year reign ran from 1702 to 1714. She was also married to Prince George of Denmark from 1683 until he passed away at Kensington Palace in 1708. 

Although Anne was unable to produce an heir, it wasn’t from a lack of trying. She was pregnant 17 times, but most of her babies either miscarried or were stillborn, and the handful carried to term died during infancy. The queen coped with the loss by raising 17 pet rabbits, one for each offspring. 

Until now, Anne and George have been generally remembered as having been faithful and devoted partners. But you can add The Favourite to the long list of revisionist sagas which deign to impose present-day values while ignoring long-standing conventional wisdom. more

February 27, 2019

“THE STREAM”: This painting by Daniel Garber is one of more than 130 works of art to be featured in the Gratz Gallery and Conservation Studio Modern Art and Fine American Paintings online auction on March 17. A special preview day is Saturday, March 16, from 12 to 5 p.m. at the gallery in Doylestown, Pa.

On March 17, at 11 a.m., Gratz Gallery and Conservation Studio is again partnering with Invaluable.com for its second Modern Art and Fine American Paintings Auction.

The online auction will include more than 130 lots of works by American and international artists. Included are a selection of fine American paintings and an array of impressionist, realist, modern art, abstract and surreal, and decorative art as well as small, unknown treasures and gems. The online catalog is available for viewing at gratzgallery.com, where there is also a direct link to the live auction site at Invaluable.com. more

“PINK SNEAKERS”: “La Feminista: Soy Yo?”, a photography and video installation by Trenton photographer Tamara Torres, is at Mercer County Community College’s James Kerney Campus Gallery February 28 to April 4. A community reception and artist talk are on Wednesday, March 6 from 5 to 7 p.m.

Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) James Kerney Campus Gallery (JKCG) will showcase works by Tamara Torres in the exhibit “La Feminista: Soy Yo?” The show runs from February 28 to April 4. The community is invited to a reception and artist talk with Torres on Wednesday, March 6 from 5 to 7 p.m. The talk starts at 6 p.m.

Torres, a Trenton native, survived abuse, discrimination, and homelessness, and has used her art as a platform for disadvantaged women worldwide. Her Puerto Rican heritage has also influenced her photography, which has been exhibited in New York, Chicago, London, and Rome.

Michael Chovan-Dalton, the gallery’s director and curator, observes that Torres’ project dives into feminism across cultures and generations. “It is an attempt to bridge the different experiences and identities within the feminist movement through dialogue,” Chovan-Dalton said. “In our current climate filled with great politicized anger and debate over the harassment and abuse of women, and equity for women in the workplace, Torres examines a foundational element of the current social, economic, and political struggle that can be a source of both strength and division among those seeking to be heard.” more

“RAINBOW VALLEY”: Maxine Shore’s painting is featured in the group show, “Awakenings,” at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville March 7 through March 31. Gail Bracegirdle, Bill Jersey, and Debbie Pisacreta will also exhibit paintings expressing their personal visions. An opening reception is Sunday, March 10 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Artists Gail Bracegirdle, Bill Jersey, Debbie Pisacreta, and Maxine Shore will exhibit paintings expressing their personal visions in a group show, “Awakenings,” on view March 7 through March 31 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. An opening reception is on Sunday, March 10 from 1 to 4 p.m.

Gail Bracegirdle is a representational artist whose watercolors are filled with light and color. She prefers to work from life or from sketches made on location in order to observe and capture the effects of direct and reflected light and shadow on her subject. A signature member of the Philadelphia Water Color Society, her paintings are actively exhibited in juried, group, and solos shows, have won awards, and are held in private collections in the United States, Europe, and Australia. more

Pirates and Captain Hook are pestering the Peter Pan and his band of lost boys in “Peter and the Starcatcher,” at Mercer County Community College’s Kelsey Theatre March 8-17. Pennington Players presents the Tony-winning show, a prequel to J.M. Barrie’s novel “Peter and Wendy.” Visit www.KelseyTheatre.net for tickets. (Photo by Kyrus Keenan Photography)

By Nancy Plum

The giants of the opera world do not have much time to leave their stages and create innovative and cross-cultural programs for smaller audiences, but two such titans came to McCarter Theatre Center this past weekend to perform a bit of opera, American song, and spirituals — with a whole lot of entertainment. The career of bass-baritone Eric Owens has taken him from the Metropolitan Opera to interactive recitals for incarcerated youth to the maximum-security Attica correctional facility. His roles have ranged from Wagnerian to Aristotle Onassis to the delicate Mozart classics. This season, he has turned his attention in a new direction — a multicity vocal collaboration with tenor Lawrence Brownlee, a master of the 19th-century bel canto style of singing and also a leading performer in opera houses worldwide. Owens and Brownlee have teamed up this year for a recital of solo opera arias, duets, American song, and spirituals, and brought their unique partnership to McCarter Theatre this past Sunday afternoon with a program of Mozart, Donizetti, Verdi, and Bizet, as well as a journey through American music. more