June 2, 2021

TAKING IT OUTDOORS: Mercer County Community College alumna Natalie Bogach of East Windsor is part of the cast for the performances of “The Romantics” scheduled for June 5-6 on the West Windsor campus. Members of MCCC’s theatre and dance programs will present the production.

The Romantics, a devised performative collage outdoor performance, will be performed at Mercer County Community College June 5-6. The production is the brainchild of MCCC Theatre and Dance Company Coordinator Jody Gazenbeek-Person.

As audience members meander through and around the campus, they will come upon dance, poetry, and theatrical scenes. Audience size is limited to 50 for each of the performances, which are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, June 5 and 6 at 2 and 6 p.m. The rain dates are June 12-13 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. A special performance for those with mobility concerns is planned for 4 p.m. Friday, June 5 (rain date June 11). The audience members can remain seated the entire time.

“The idea for this production hit me due to the pandemic,” Gazenbeek-Person said. “This has been a challenging time for everyone. The one beautiful thing to come out of these awful times was people’s return to nature — taking hikes, houseplant collecting, gardening, joining bird-watching groups. It struck me to move with the positive parts of our time. A lot of people haven’t heard of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing). People are much more inspired to nature at the moment, and I thought ‘why not take our community in Mercer County deeper?’” more

NEW POST: Award-wining photographer Deana Lawson was recently named the inaugural Dorothy Krauklis ’78 Professor of Visual Arts at Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts. (Photo courtesy of Deana Lawson)

Award-winning photographer Deana Lawson has been named the inaugural Dorothy Krauklis ’78 Professor of Visual Arts in Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts. A member of Princeton’s Program in Visual Arts faculty since 2012, Lawson’s appointment begins July 1.

“Deana Lawson, one of the preeminent artists of our time, has fashioned a visual vocabulary for Black lives and Black selfhood that is indispensable in a climate where daily threats and convoluted debate have hamstrung our national dialog about race and redress,” said Lewis Center Chair Tracy K. Smith. “Poignant, painterly, provocative, her images hurt a little bit, even when the inner wish they capture is rapturous. It’s fitting that she be honored with an endowed professorship.”

Lawson was the recipient of the 2020 Hugo Boss Prize awarded by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation by a jury of international critics and curators, the first photographer to win this prestigious biennial award. She received an honorarium of $100,000 and a solo exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum, which opened May 7 and runs through October 11. Lawson was also the subject by a recent New York Times Magazine cover story that dives deeply into Lawson’s life, artistic process, her aesthetic, the cultural importance of her work, and her latest projects. Staff writer Jenna Wortham noted, “Deana Lawson’s regal, loving, unburdened photographs imagine a world in which Black people are free from the distortions of history.” more

NEW ART CENTER: ArtYard has opened its new 21,000-square-foot facility in Frenchtown, which features two floors of exhibition space and a 162-seat state-of-the-art theater.

ArtYard, a nonprofit contemporary art center and residency, has opened its newly completed 21,000-square-foot home with two floors of exhibition space, and a 162-seat state-of-the-art theater. This interdisciplinary art center is located at 13 Front Street in Frenchtown.

With its new art center, ArtYard aims to create a welcoming communal resource and deploy the power of art to unsettle, engage, bridge divides, and occasion moments of arresting beauty.

Three major exhibitions per year anchor a program of related offerings in theater, poetry, dance, music, and film, as well as idiosyncratic communal celebrations such as ArtYard’s Hatch, a New Orleans-inspired parade of giant birds. An artists residency program is also in development and will launch in 2022 with an inaugural collaboration with the Baryshnikov Art Center in New York.

Architects Ed Robinson and William Welch collaborated on the design of the new building, embedding a sophisticated modern art center within a structure that respects the architectural idioms of a once industrial town, at the site of the former egg hatchery, Kerr’s Chickeries. ArtYard’s Managing Director Kandy Ferree, with assistance from architectural advisor Bob Hsu, managed the project with builders William S. Cumby.  more

“PRINCETON PECHA”: Works by photographer Eileen Hohmuth-Lemonick and other local artists will be showcased in a free virtual program presented by the Arts Council of Princeton on Wednesday, June 9 from 8 to 9:15 p.m.

The Arts Council of Princeton presents Princeton Pecha, bringing local artists together to share their work in a virtual program inspired by PechaKucha, a lively, upbeat format created in Japan that is designed for more show and less talk. Featured artists during this June 9 program from 8 to 9:15 p.m. include Alan Chimacoff, Habiyb, Mary Leck, Craig Shofed, Brass Rabbit, and Eileen Hohmuth-Lemonick.

Each artist will show 20 slides for 20 seconds each (about 7 minutes per artist), exhibiting for the audience an array of visual expression.

“As a photographer and teacher, I have watched over time the exponential growth of photography from darkroom days to digital” said curator and host Madelaine Shellaby. “Curating the June Pecha offered an opportunity to find individuals whose work distinguished itself from the crowd and evidenced a through line to unique purpose. The photographers I chose show a clear dedication to not only finding their own truths through their work, but to making a difference within their community. The many ways to do this include revealing psychological truths, observing social dysfunction, and my personal favorite, uplifting the moment with poetic beauty.”

Registration is free at artscouncilofprinceton.org.

May 26, 2021

By Stuart Mitchner

Close your eyes. Pretend you’re 10 years old. Playing. Just playing.

—from Friday Night Lights

Mostly what I did growing up was bide my time.

—Bob Dylan, from Chronicles

Picture two people in a pasture with some cows, a line of pink light balanced on the horizon. Move in closer and you see a high school football coach and his wife. The toxic spillover of a train derailment and an explosion has cost the coach home field advantage, an absolute necessity for the upcoming game that will decide whether his team goes to the state finals. He’s refused the emergency option of a big stadium with all the amenities, an offer tainted by big money, bribery, and corruption. Mainly, he knows what home field means. So, two days before the game, he decides to convert the pasture into a makeshift stadium, with arc lights, stands, scoreboard, end zones, goal posts, everything. Clearly an impossibility, but he’s a determined man. His wife has doubts and questions. “Where would people park? And how would you put lights in here?” Coach says he doesn’t know, doesn’t care. When a cow moos, he takes it as a show of support. “All I’m tryin’ to do,” he says, and suddenly he knows what he wants to say, it’s what the moment’s all about, the heart of the matter. “Come here,” he says. When she’s within whispering distance, he holds her face in both hands, tells her to close her eyes and pretend she’s 10 years old. Just playing. Just playing….

What Hit Home

Playing! That’s the word that hit home for me and brought back the essence of play, as in playing ball, 10 years old, me and my friends, as it was and seemed it would surely always be, just us, no adults, no coaches, no parents, no pressure (no cows). Just kids having fun, with a football in fall, a baseball in summer, using scuffed up, grass-stained balls and a few Louisville Sluggers with black friction tape around the handles and nothing but the rough sketch of an infield to play on in a onetime pasture with an old barn at one end and on the bluff beyond it the Illinois Central railroad tracks. We were still playing in the fading daylight right up to the moment parents called or whistled us home. That was before the adult-monitored, organized competition of Babe Ruth or Little League, or in high school, where, if you were lucky you had a coach like the one in Peter Berg’s series Friday Night Lights (2006-2011).  more

By Nancy Plum

The weather has been good to Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) this spring. The Orchestra returned to presenting outdoor concerts this past month, and so far each performance evening has been a relaxed opportunity under a clear sky to enjoy high-quality chamber music. Last Thursday night at Morven Museum and Garden’s pool house, Princeton Symphony Orchestra presented the New York-based Momenta Quartet to an audience comfortably “podded” on the lawn. The four musicians of the Quartet — violinists Emilie-Anne Gendron and Alex Shiozaki, violist Stephanie Griffin, and cellist Michael Haas — performed four representative pieces of “Great Music from the Recent and Distant Past,” and interspersed with commentary and musical background, these works created a very entertaining evening under the stars.  

Sixteenth-century English composer William Byrd is most well-known for sacred choral music, but his large repertory of keyboard pieces brought English works of this genre to new heights. Byrd composed several keyboard collections, often pairing dance movements. The “pavane,” a stately and dignified dance, was frequently paired with the more lively and complex “galliard.” Momenta Quartet played one of these pavane and galliard pairings by Byrd with a somewhat straight tone, reaffirming the 16th-century sound. Violinists Gendron and Shiozaki were well matched in the opening pavane, and the Quartet consistently executed well measures of detached notes. The galliard was uniformly brisk, with the slightly off-beat rhythmic accents well played.   more

The League of American Orchestras has awarded a $19,500 grant to the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) to strengthen their understanding of equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), and to help transform organizational culture.

Given to 25 orchestras nationwide, the one-year grants comprise the final round of The Catalyst Fund, the League’s three-year, $2.1 million grant-making program, made possible by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with additional support from the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation.

“This grant represents the second consecutive year of Catalyst funding for the PSO, which will enable us to build upon the foundational work we have begun under the guidance of our EDI consultant this season,” said Marc Uys, the PSO’s executive director. 

“American orchestras have made a strong commitment to embrace equity, diversity, and inclusion and reverse decades of inequity on-stage and off – an imperative made even more urgent by the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color,” said Simon Woods, the League’s president and CEO.  “This is a long-term journey, but it starts with taking immediate action and creating organizational momentum. We’re grateful for The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s long-standing support for the orchestral field, and for the strategic vision that has allowed this group of orchestras to model what change looks like for our entire field through their Catalyst Fund grants.” more

The Pennsylvania Ballet concludes its virtual spring season May 27-June 2 with three world premieres, all to music by contemporary composer Jennifer Higdon. Pictured is “Spillway” by Meredith Rainey. Also on the program are works by Russell Ducker and Juliano Nunes. Tickets are $25. Visit paballet.org.

“SMALL WORLD COFFEE ON NASSAU STREET”: This work by Ryan Lilienthal is part of “Art Speaks,” a gallery show of paintings and photographs by Art+10 area artists. The exhibition will be on view at Small World Coffee, 104 Witherspoon Street, June 2 through July 5.

“Art Speaks,” a gallery show of paintings and photographs, opens Tuesday, June 2 at Small World Coffee, 104 Witherspoon Street. The show by Art+10’s area artists covers a broad range of subjects using narrative and abstract art forms.

Narrative art is distinguished from other genres in its ability to tell a story across diverse cultures. Narrative works in the show include Ryan Lilienthal’s painting “Small World Coffee on Nassau Street.” It depicts patron John Conway, the renowned mathematician, who died from COVID. Lilienthal says, “It speaks for those who can no longer share their voice.” Heather Barros’ said of her “Sea Gulls” painting, “… when art speaks … each of us hears a different story,” and fairy tales inspired Betty Curtiss’ “Big Bad Little Red.” more

“OBI”: This piece by Ellen Ramsey is featured in “Weaving Re-Imagined: At the Intersection of Tradition and Creativity,” a group exhibition on view through July 18 at the New Hope Arts Center in New Hope, Pa.

New Hope Arts Center at 2 Stockton Avenue in New Hope, Pa., now presents “Weaving Re-Imagined: At the Intersection of Tradition and Creativity,” an invitational group exhibition examining a variety of current approaches to traditional weaving techniques.

On view through July 18, the exhibition features work by Janet Austin, Rita R. Gekht, Michelle Lester, Bojana Leznicki, Denise Marshall, Ellen Ramsey, Michael F. Rohde, Carol K. Russell, Mary-Ann Sievert, Natalya Smirnova, Rebecca Smith, Armando Sosa, and Betty Vera. The gallery is open to visitors Friday through Sunday, noon to 5 p.m., by appointment. Appointments can be scheduled in advance by calling (215) 862-9606. more

May 19, 2021

By Stuart Mitchner

Now you see in Hip Talk, they call William Shakespeare “Willie the Shake!” You know why they call him “Willie the Shake!” Because, HE SHOOK EVERYBODY!

—Lord Buckley (1906-1960)

There was a time long long ago when I thought the best thing that ever happened to Shakespeare was Marlon Brando. Even as Elvis was singing “Heartbreak Hotel,” high school kids in southern Indiana forced to memorize “Friends, Romans, and Countrymen” could take heart from Brando’s presence in MGM’s Julius Caesar. Or you could listen to Lord Buckley’s album Hipsters and read his version of the speech, “Hipsters, Flipsters, and Finger-Poppin’ Daddies,” in the City Lights paperback Hiparama of the Classics.

Enter/Exit Norman Lloyd

Me, I had to wait until James Shapiro put Lord Buckley’s rendition of Antony’s funeral oration into his anthology, Shakespeare in America, which was published by The Library of America in 2014, the Bard’s  450th anniversary.

In November of that year, Norman Lloyd celebrated his 100th birthday. If you’ve heard of him, it’s most likely because he died last week at 106, remembered in the New York Times obituary as “the young actor” who moved audiences as Cinna the poet in Orson Welles’s 1937 fascist production of Julius Caesar, which Welles subtitled The Death of a Dictator. I recognized the man in the Times photograph as the title character in Alfred Hitchcock’s Saboteur (1942), described in the obit as “the chilly fascist sympathizer who had kept audiences on the edge of their seats as he dangled from the Statue of Liberty.” He didn’t just dangle, he fell, the sleeve of his jacket tearing as Robert Cummings tried to pull him to safety. The mother  of all vertigo paranoia is Hitchcock’s shot of Lloyd falling to his death. Thus, the young actor, who “died” at the hands of a jackbooted Nazi mob in a modern-day Caesar and five years later as a Nazi agent, outlived everyone involved in both productions. He and Welles, who died in 1985, were both 22 when Lloyd’s onstage murder stopped the show at the Mercury Theatre.

What made Cinna’s fatal misadventure in Act 3 a show-stopping sensation? Introducing Stanley Whipple’s New York World-Telegram review in Shakespeare in America, Shapiro notes that while Welles drastically cut Shakespeare’s text, “his focus on fascism and mob violence led him to stage in full, for the first time in America, the scene in which Cinna the Poet is attacked … by the kind of mob that gives you a Hitler or Mussolini.” According to Lloyd himself in a July 2014 interview on eatdrinkfilms.com, “the show stopped for about three minutes. The audience stopped it with applause” because it showed them “what fascism was; rather than an intellectual approach, you saw a physical one.” The immediacy of the act electrified the audience. Said Lloyd, “In 1937, Hitler was in power and the Germans were killing people on the street. If your name was Jewish, you were gone. I wanted that, so I said to Orson, ‘This is just a guy who gives the wrong name.’ “ In the play all Cinna can say, over and over, is “I’m Cinna, the poet,” not the Cinna implicated in Caesar’s assassination.

A second notice written by Whipple during the opening week refers to “the trance” the play induced among theatregoers. The “tragedy of Cinna the Poet” is singled out as “a triumph for the direction of Mr. Welles and the playing of Norman Lloyd.” Whipple’s account focuses on “the slender figure of the poet” confronted by “a little knot of man hunters  obviously trying to mop up the conspirators.” To their questions, he keeps mildly repeating the words “I am Cinna the poet” and “handing out his scribblings with polite bewilderment, to prove his identity.” As he starts to move free, another group of men blocks his way. Then another, and another. “Around him is a small ring of light, and in the shadows an ever-tightening, pincer-like mass movement. Then in one awful moment of madness the jaws of the mob come together on him and he is swallowed up and rushed into black oblivion.” Clearly still seeing and feeling the moment, Whipple takes a breath and concludes: “Mr. Lloyd’s gently comic bewilderment, his pathetic innocence and the crushing climax as the human juggernaut rolls down upon him make this one of the most dynamic scenes in today’s theater.”  more

“A TWIST OF WATER”: Passage Theatre has presented an online production of “A Twist of Water.” Written by Caitlin Parrish (from a story by Parrish and Erica Weiss), and directed by Michael Osinski, the play portrays a widowed history teacher whose adopted daughter Jira (depicted above) decides to search for her birth mother. (Artwork by Jonathan Connor and Leon Rainbow, courtesy of Passage Theatre)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Passage Theatre has concluded its mainstage season with A Twist of Water. The drama depicts Noah, a history teacher who confronts the death of his husband and the decision of their adopted African American teenage daughter, Jira, to seek out her birth mother.

Written by Caitlin Parrish, from a story by Parrish and Erica Weiss, A Twist of Water premiered in 2011. Set in Chicago, the play debuted in that city (produced by Route 66 Theatre Company). An off-Broadway run followed in 2012.

Passage’s online presentation was presented May 12-16. A press release observes that the play “portrays characters with intersecting identities that include race and sexual orientation.”

The video begins with a caption to remember that A Twist of Water “takes place in what is colonially known as the city of Chicago, which is located on the traditional unceded homelands of the Council of the Three Fires: the Ojibwe, Odawa, and Potawatomi Nations.” While it is becoming customary for theaters to begin events with a land acknowledgement, the subject is thematically connected to this play.

“Chicago is Chicago because of its water,” Noah remarks philosophically. “In the 1600s French explorers were making their way across the continent and came upon a river, which was called ‘shikaakwa’ by the Native Americans.” As a young woman gazes out at what presumably is either Lake Michigan or the Chicago River, Noah adds, “The newcomers heard this name, and their version became ‘Chicago.”

This contemplative opening monologue (which presumably is preparation for a lesson) is in sharp contrast to the subsequent scene, in which Noah (Josh Tyson) frantically makes repeated calls to Jira, to find out where she is. Jira (Kishia Nixon) finally answers, and coolly explains that she has been “by the lake.” more

By Nancy Plum

Princeton Symphony Orchestra welcomed a live audience to Morven Museum & Garden for the first time in months last Thursday night with a presentation of “Boyd Meets Girl,” featuring guitarist Rupert Boyd and cellist Laura Metcalf.  The “pods” of audience members on the lawn of Morven’s pool house were clearly elated to be out on a warm night of music, complemented by overhead planes, chirping birds, and the occasional barking dog. 

Boyd and Metcalf, a married couple who have long been performing under the monikers “Boyd” and “Girl,” presented a program of music ranging from the 19th to 21stcenturies, crossing genres from Romantic masterpieces to contemporary classical to the Beatles. The combination of guitar and cello has not frequently been heard throughout music history, and most of the pieces they performed last Thursday night were “stolen,” in their words, from other instruments. These innovative arrangements not only showed the technical proficiency of the two artists, but also created a unique musical palette.  

Boyd and Metcalf began the concert with a piece suitable for a summer evening. Erik Satie’s Je Te Veux dated from a period in the composer’s life when he delved into lighter cabaret music in order to make a living.  As played by Boyd and Metcalf, the short waltz immediately evoked strolling along the Seine in Paris. The two instruments were well-balanced, with Metcalf keeping the cello melody light.  more

FABULOUS FINALE: The last program in the Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s virtual “Buskaid, a Musical Miracle” series includes a performance of a portion of Shostakovich’s “Five Pieces for Two Violins,” substituting cellos. The players are Gilbert Tsoke and Nathi Matroos. (Photo by Graham De Lacy)

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) presents the fifth and final installment of this season’s online “Buskaid – A Musical Miracle” series showcasing South Africa’s Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble. The program is available on demand Friday, May 28 – Sunday, May 30, and spans musical eras from Baroque through Classical and early 20th century to more recent pop and kwela music.

Performed works include Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Chaconne from the opera Dardanus, the first movement of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 13 in C Major, K. 415 with guest pianist Melvyn Tan, and Edward Elgar’s Sospiri, Op. 70. Buskaid-trained musicians alternate as soloists in each of Dmitri Shostakovich’s Five Pieces for Two Violins, adding a twist by substituting cellists for violins in the Elegy. Buskaid founder Rosemary Nalden conducts.

“It’s almost impossible to sum up in a few words the impact of this online concert series on all of us at Buskaid,” said Nalden. “Suffice it to say that our young musicians have gained hugely in confidence and self-esteem with the knowledge that they have been celebrated worldwide for their talent, their commitment, and their sheer joy in making music.”  more

“SRISHTI”: This mixed media and pen work by teaching artist Anusha Saran is featured in West Windsor Arts’ “Faculty Student Show,” on view online May 21 through July 9. An online opening reception and recognition of Certificate of Fine Arts (CiFA) students is on Friday, May 21 at 7:15 p.m. 

The “Faculty Student Show” at West Windsor Arts (WWA) will celebrate the work of teaching artists and their students created in a class or workshop at WWAC during the fall, winter, or spring sessions of the 2020-2021 class year. The online exhibition runs from May 21 to July 9, with an online opening reception and recognition of Certificate of Fine Arts (CiFA) students on Friday, May 21 at 7:15 p.m. This is a free event, but registration is required.  

Each year WWA honors its teaching artists and the work created by its students, both youth and adults, by showcasing their work in a culminating exhibition, the “Faculty Student Show.”

The professional teaching artists who comprise the faculty are accomplished in their fields and uphold the highest integrity in their work. With small class sizes there is plenty of one-on-one instruction, allowing for a personalized approach to help students of all ages achieve their learning goals. WWA values learners as creative, innovative individuals, who benefit from work in the arts no matter what their challenges, goals, or life’s work.   more

“RANUNCULUS”: Bucks County artist Jean Childs Buzgo will discuss her work in “My Evolving Artistic Journey,” online via Zoom on Thursday, May 20 at 7 p.m. The presentation is part of Artsbridge’s Distinguished Artists Series.

Award-winning Bucks County artist Jean Childs Buzgo will take viewers on her evolving artistic journey when she presents at Artsbridge’s Distinguished Artists Series – online via Zoom – on Thursday, May 20 at 7 p.m.

Represented by the Silverman Gallery in Buckingham, gallery owner Rhonda Garland says of her work, “Inspired by a desire to take a decidedly new direction, Buzgo experiments with both technique and tone to cover a vast realm of seasons and subjects and sizes. Buzgo’s newest work is a glimpse into the many stories of her life, both real and imagined, reflected in this varied collection that runs the gamut from dramatic to serene. Her distinctive, energetic brushstrokes are juxtaposed with balanced compositions and invigorated with a mood-driven new color palette. Jean’s work is always a delight to behold, and she has garnered quite a following. She works passionately, consistently and is not afraid to venture out on a new course. Her vivid brushwork is evolving, loosening up and inviting her audience to imagine and remember the beauty of Bucks County and beyond.”

Jean will discuss the evolution of her style from representational to abstraction. Viewers will explore her varied subjects and materials and discover what inspires her and how she harnesses her creativity. She’ll give a brief tour of her studio and fill fellow artists in on her strategies to get her work out in the world.

The 2020 Phillips Mill Art Exhibition Image Artist, Buzgo’s work can be found in private collections here and abroad. To attend the free Zoom presentation or for more information, visit artsbridgeonline.com.

“A SPOT OF TEA BEFORE THE GARDEN CLUB COMPETITION”: This oil painting by Leslie Vought Kuenne is featured in “Leslie V. Kuenne: A Life in Art,” on view through June 19 at the Arts Council of Princeton.

The Arts Council of Princeton now presents a collection of paintings, pen and ink drawings, and photography works by Leslie Vought Kuenne.

“Leslie V. Kuenne: A Life in Art” features a selection of Kuenne’s work produced over the years outdoors in plein air, in her Princeton studio, at the Arts Council, and at her summer home in Shelburne, Vermont.

“Leslie was a deeply dedicated member of the Princeton community and a gifted painter, sketch artist, gardener, and award-winning photographer,” said ACP Artistic Director Maria Evans. “She studied painting and drawing at the Arts Council for many years and participated in several shows in our Taplin Gallery. Leslie took great comfort and solace in making art and the Arts Council was so fortunate to have her as a student, member, board member, and friend.”  more

“SURVEYOR’S COMPASS”: This piece by Thomas Greenough, circa 1735, is part of “Magnificent Measures! The Hausman-Hill Collection of Calculating Instruments,” one of two new exhibitions on view at the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, Pa., May 23 through September 6.

The Mercer Museum, operated by the Bucks County Historical Society, has announced the opening of two new exhibits, “Measurement Rules” and “Magnificent Measures! The Hausman-Hill Collection of Calculating Instruments,” in the Martin & Warwick Foundation Galleries at the museum on Sunday, May 23. The exhibits run through Monday, September 6.

“Measurement Rules” is a family-friendly, traveling interactive exhibit created by the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. The exhibit explores the meaning of size, height, length, weight, and volume through a variety of hands-on activities like giant tape measures, treadmill odometers, balance scales, and more.

This playful exhibit, perfect for young children, teaches the fundamentals of measurement through fun questions like, How many chickens do you weigh? How tall are you in apples or inches or pennies? and Can you use your foot as a ruler?

“We’ve designed this exhibit to enable kids to work together and become more confident in the language of measurement,” said Anne Fullenkamp, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s Director of Design.  more

May 12, 2021

By Nancy Plum

This month and next, New Jersey Symphony Orchestra is presenting an online concert film trilogy featuring recorded instrumental performances accompanied by visual meditations and dance sequences. Directed by New Jersey native filmmaker Yuri Alves and produced by DreamPlay Films, the three-episode Emerge features NJSO conductor Xian Zhang leading the Orchestra in performances recorded live in the Orchestra’s home base New Jersey Performing Arts Center in February and March, 2021. Most significant about the first episode of this series, launched Wednesday, April 28, was the return of brass and winds to the previously socially-distanced ensemble.

The first concert in the Emerge series presented three orchestral works, including an East Coast premiere, as well as a world-renowned pianist. Johann Sebastian Bach’s 18th-century keyboard Concerto in F Minor was one of seven complete concertos the composer wrote for harpsichord, and like many of Bach’s keyboard concertos, was a reworking of pre-existing music from compositions for other instruments. Featured in the NJSO performance was American pianist Simone Dinnerstein playing the three-movement work on piano.

Visually accompanied by street scenes of Newark, Dinnerstein brought out well the delicate ornamentation of Bach’s music. Conductor Zhang kept the chamber-sized string ensemble subtle, and both Orchestra and soloist executed graceful repetitions of phrases. The plucked accompaniment of the second movement “Largo” showed the music’s connection to the lute repertory, as Dinnerstein led the melodic material expressively. The third movement “Presto” clearly showed the work’s roots in Bach’s violin music, as Dinnerstein demonstrated a particularly light left hand racing lithely through quick-moving sequences and melodic passages.  more

By Stuart Mitchner

Keep your eyes glued to that set until the station signs off. I can assure you that what you will observe is a vast wasteland.

—Newton Minow

Sixty years ago on Sunday, May 9, 1961, newly appointed F.C.C. Chairman Newton Minow labeled television “a vast wasteland” in an address to the National Association of Broadcasters. After suggesting that “when television is good, nothing — not the theater, not the magazines or newspapers — nothing is better,” he asserted that “when television is bad, nothing is worse.” His litany of negatives included “game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly, commercials — many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom.”

If you’re wondering what Minow would make of today’s non-stop, everything-you-desire-is-endlessly-available wonder/wasteland, he’s here to tell us, at age 95, and according to news.wttw.com in Chicago, he thinks that the expanding of viewing choices has “contributed to the deep divisions in our country.” As a result, no surprise, the most important issue today is “deciding what is a fact.”

Speaking of Facts

A few weeks ago I referred to Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould’s Better Call Saul as “a great American film,” as if my opinion had some basis in fact. Writing at Oscar time, when American films are the center of the universe, I was speaking in extremes to make a point. Yes, it’s an outstanding series, it’s American, and it’s a film, but it’s also a five-season 50-episode saga with a sixth and final season yet to come. Sometimes I have to temper my enthusiasm to avoid sounding like a glorified blurb writer or a publicist with delusions of grandeur, not unlike Saul Goodman himself.

Another factor that would have sounded fantastically futuristic when Minow made his wasteland speech is the freedom to binge that allows me (and my wife) to speed through an entire five-season series in under two weeks. By so doing, we’re violating the real-life viewing experience of audiences that may have had to wait a year or longer for a new season. Meanwhile, it’s hard to keep a spillover of excitement from driving a written response, especially if you’re still feeling the wind of the binge at your back. more

Princeton Boychoir (PBC) presents its spring concert, “Journey On,” on Saturday, June 5 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, June 6 at 4 p.m. The virtual events will feature all three PBC choirs singing music they learned during online rehearsal this spring. The boys range from grades three-12 and are selected by audition. The concert is streamed on Westrick Music Academy’s YouTube channel. A donation of $10 is suggested, but any amount is appreciated.

A watch party for Princeton Youth Ballet’s production of “The Sleeping Beauty,” by Risa Kaplowitz, will be held Sunday, May 16 at 7 p.m. The virtual event, featuring playback of a 2019 performance, will include an opportunity to donate, and prizes including a decorative pointe shoe by artist Anne Connors and a voucher for four tickets to a future performance. Visit princetonyouthballet.org to get the link.

“CATCHING FLIES”: This work by J. Leigh Garcia is part of “Print+,” one of two new exhibitions on view at the Hunterdon Art Museum through September 5.

The Hunterdon Art Museum now presents “Crossroads: Book Artists’ Impassioned Responses to Immigration, Human Rights, and Our Environment” and “Print+” through September 5. The works featured in the exhibitions comment on past and present racial, social, and political issues through observations and personal stories.

According to “Crossroads” curator Maria G. Pisano, our world is at a crossroad and changing in a myriad of ways: refugees and migrants being displaced, an environment visibly in peril, plus constant conflicts and wars between countries and nations. In this exhibition, artists reacting to these changes lend their voice and present book works that reflect our tumultuous times.

Among the works in “Crossroads” is “Stolen II,” an installation by U.K. native Pam Cooper created in response to the 2014 abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls in Boko Haram, Nigeria. The piece examines laws written by western countries that allowed them to abduct children from their families for racial, political, and economic reasons.  more

Morven Museum & Garden presents “Oil and Water —  Two Artists, Two Approaches: An Evening with Joe Kazimierczyk and Beatrice Bork” on Wednesday, May 19 at 6:30 p.m. New Jersey artists Bork and Kazimierczyk, whose work is shown here, both draw their subject matter from their outdoor experiences and will share their artwork and inspirations in this virtual program. $10; $5 for members. For more information and to register, visit morven.org.

May 5, 2021

By Stuart Mitchner

I loved them for what they entertain, and then later loved them for what they taught.

—Satyajit Ray (1921-1992), on American films

Sunday, May 2, marked the 100th birthday of the Indian film director Satyajit Ray, who was presented with an honorary Oscar at the 1992 Academy Awards “in recognition of his rare mastery of the art of motion pictures, and of his profound humanitarian outlook, which has had an indelible influence on filmmakers and audiences throughout the world.”

Videotaped as he lay in a Calcutta hospital three weeks before his death, the golden statuette clutched in one hand, Ray’s acceptance speech was direct, open, and down to earth, in contrast to the lofty rhetoric of the citation: “When I was a small, small school boy, I was terribly interested in the cinema. Became a film fan, wrote to Deanna Durbin. Got a reply, was delighted. Wrote to Ginger Rogers, didn’t get a reply. Then of course, I got interested in the cinema as an art form, and I wrote a twelve-page letter to Billy Wilder after seeing Double Indemnity. He didn’t reply either. Well, there you are. I have learned everything I’ve learned about the craft of cinema from the making of American films. I’ve been watching American films very carefully over the years and I loved them for what they entertain, and then later loved them for what they taught.”

The Only Truth 

Last week the New York Times brought images from India’s pandemic nightmare to the breakfast table, vistas of funeral pyres burning in New Delhi and headlines like “Death Is the Only Truth” over Aman Sethi’s April 30 account of the mass cremations in Ghazipur. At the same time, my wife and I were watching the life and death truths at the heart of Ray’s Apu Trilogy: Pather Panchali (1955), Aparajito (1957), and The World of Apu/Apur Sansa (1959), films of which Ray’s fellow director Akira Kurosawa has said, “Not to have seen the cinema of Satyajit Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon.” more