January 26, 2022

By Stuart Mitchner

They know that Hamlet and Lear are gay;
Gaiety transfiguring all that dread.
All men have aimed at, found and lost;
Black out; Heaven blazing into the head …

—W.B. Yeats (1865-1939)

Imagine writing a novel about the survivors of a plague that kills 99.9 percent of the world’s population. Let’s say things are going well, the end’s almost in sight when a real-life pandemic begins producing an alarmingly high death toll. As the numbers climb into the millions, you’re distracted by the ongoing event, the way it may conflict with or affect your concept, not to mention your own well-being, plus the pressure from a publisher looking to rush a sure bestseller into print.

Now imagine playing the starring role in a television series based on a novel about the survivors of a plague that kills 99.9 percent of the world’s population. You’re just beginning to get to know your character when the real-life pandemic of 2020 halts production, puts you in lockdown isolation for months, after which filming resumes in another, supposedly safer country, where you remain until production wraps in early 2021. And then, even as you’re doing pre-release interviews, new variants like Delta and Omicron are making you wonder if the world might be gravitating toward a virus no less unthinkable, and oh, here’s a new film, a silly but scary dystopian satire called Don’t Look Up coming along just in time to put a funhouse focus on life on earth as the environmental doomsday clock keeps moving toward high noon.

The novelist Emily St. John Mandel avoided the first what-if scenario by finishing her book Station Eleven in 2014. The actress Mackenzie Davis (Halt and Catch Fire) had to deal with, live through, and somehow successfully transcend the real-life challenges of the second scenario. more

“OUR TOWN”: Performances are underway for “Our Town.” Presented by Kelsey Theatre and Shakespeare 70, and directed by Jake Burbage and Frank Falisi, the play runs through January 30 at Kelsey Theatre. Above: the Stage Manager (Curt Foxworth, center) and the cast. On ladders are George (Jake Burbage, left) and Emily (Kate Augustin). (Photo courtesy of Jake Burbage)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

On January 22, 1938, Our Town premiered at McCarter Theatre. Thornton Wilder wrote to a friend that the performance, which was “sold out with standees,” was an “undoubted success.” An unimpressed Variety declared that the play would “probably go down as the season’s most extravagant waste of fine talent” — an ironic assessment since Our Town won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama later that year.

Eighty-four years later (almost to the day), Our Town is being presented by Shakespeare 70 at Kelsey Theatre. Directed by Jake Burbage and Frank Falisi, this smooth, deft production honors Wilder’s intentions, while subtly giving additional focus and insight to a central character.

In terms of the visual aesthetic, this Our Town generally does not stray from what audiences might expect after seeing photos of past productions. In keeping with Wilder’s request for “no scenery,” Judi Parrish (credited with “props”) furnishes the stage with simple wooden chairs, on which cast members gradually sit before the performance begins.

Although the play is set at the beginning of the 20th century, costume designer Brittany Rivera generally eschews period costumes, letting most of the cast wear casual contemporary outfits. Among the notable exceptions is the good-naturedly pedantic Professor Willard (an exuberant Ray Fallon), whose bright yellow suit matches the character’s personality.

As if to blur the lines between stage and audience, the house lights are not dimmed until the performance has been underway for several minutes. The Stage Manager (Curt Foxworth) delivers the customary pre-performance reminders about emergency exits and silencing electronic devices, then seamlessly goes on-script to give a detailed introduction of the play’s setting. more

RISING STAR: Violinist Alexi Kenney is the soloist at the February 5 and 6 concerts by the Princeton Symphony Orchestra in Richardson Auditorium. (Photo by Grittani Creative LTD)

Kenneth Bean, the (PSO) Princeton Symphony Orchestra’s recently appointed Georg and Joyce Albers-Schonberg Assistant Conductor, makes his debut on the podium at performances on Saturday, February 5 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, February 6 at 4 p.m. Violinist Alexi Kenney also makes his PSO debut with his interpretation of Jean Sibelius’ Violin Concerto.

Also on the program are Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s Ballade in A Minor, Op. 33 and Antonín Dvorák’s Symphony No. 9, From the New World. Both concerts are in Richardson Auditorium, on the campus of Princeton University. All attendees are required to wear masks at all times while inside the building, be fully vaccinated for COVID-19, and must have received boosters, if eligible. more

75th ANNIVERSARY TOUR: London’s Royal Philharmonic, led by conductor Vasily Petrenko, comes to the State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick on Sunday, January 30 at 3 p.m.

State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick presents London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO), led by conductor Vasily Petrenko with cello soloist Kian Soltani, on Sunday, January 30, at 3 p.m. The program includes Britten’s Peter Grimes: Four Sea Interludes; Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 35 with cello soloist Kian Soltani; and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances.

Celebrating its 75th year, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra typically performs approximately 200 concerts each to a worldwide audience of more than 500,000 people, reaching the most diverse audience of any British symphony orchestra.     more

“OUR TOWN”: Jim Bloss of Marlton as Doc Gibbs and Monique Beasley of Trenton as Mrs. Gibbs rehearse for the production of “Our Town” at the Kelsey Theatre on the West Windsor campus of Mercer County Community College. The Thornton Wilder classic runs through January 30. (Photo courtesy of Kelsey Theatre)

Shakespeare ’70 is performing Our Town through January 30, at the Kelsey Theatre on the West Windsor campus of Mercer County Community College (MCCC).

Thornton Wilder’s classic drama explores the universal themes of life, death, and everything in between. The play, which takes place in a small New England town at the turn of the 20th century, details the lives of two families, the Gibbs and the Webbs, and asks the question: “Do human beings realize life while they live it? Is there hope for something more?” more

DYNAMIC DUO: State Theatre New Jersey hosts Air Supply’s Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock on February 4. (Photo by Achilles Prinos)

The famed duo Air Supply performs at State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick on Friday, February 4 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35-$85.

Graham Russell’s lyrics combined with Russell Hitchcock’s voice, and hits including, “Making Love Out of Nothing at All,” “Goodbye,” “Lost in Love,” “It’s Never Too Late,” “The One That You Love,” “Sweet Dreams,” and “All Out of Love,” have made Air Supply famous in the world of soft rock and pop music.

The two men met on May 12, 1975, the first day of rehearsals for Jesus Christ Superstar in Sydney, Australia. They became instant friends and soon began playing late night gigs at pizza parlors, coffee bars, and night clubs with just one guitar and two voices. They quickly gained a reputation for their harmonies and original songs. They made a demo on a cassette of two songs, “Love and Other Bruises” and “If You Knew Me” and took it to every record company in Sydney. Everyone turned it down except CBS Records.

In 2013, the duo was inducted into the Australian Recording Industry Association’s Hall of Fame. Air Supply celebrated their 45th anniversary in 2020.

Visit STNJ.org for ticket information. State Theatre New Jersey is at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick.

“POSING BEAUTY IN AFRICAN AMERICAN CULTURE”: A touring exhibition, opening January 29 at the New Jersey State Museum in Trenton, challenges contemporary understandings of beauty by framing notions of aesthetics, race, class, and gender within art, popular culture, and politics.

The New Jersey State Museum in Trenton will present a touring exhibition, “Posing Beauty in African American Culture,” opening January 29. The exhibition explores the contested ways in which African and African American beauty have been represented in historical and contemporary contexts. Throughout the Western history of art and image-making, the relationship between beauty and art has become increasingly complex within contemporary art and popular culture. 

Presented in the State Museum’s main first floor gallery through May 22, the exhibition was organized by the Department of Photography and Imaging at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, and curated by Deborah Willis, Ph.D., university professor and chair of the department.

“Posing Beauty in African American Culture” challenges contemporary understandings of beauty by framing notions of aesthetics, race, class, and gender within art, popular culture, and politics.  more

“SPRING LAKE”: Submissions are due by April 22 for the Friends of the Abbott Marshlands’ “Voices of the Marsh” 10th juried photography exhibit, which will be on view June 5 through September 18 at the Tulpehaking Nature Center in Hamilton. (Photo by Ann E. Darlington)

The nonprofit Friends for the Abbott Marshlands has announced a call for art for “Voices for the Marsh,” its 2022 biennial, 10th juried photography exhibit. It is juried by Al Horner of New Jersey Pinelands photographic fame, and Pat Coleman, naturalist and president of the Friends.

Submissions are due by Earth Day, April 22, with the exhibition running June 5 through September 18. The venue is Tulpehaking Nature Center’s galleries at 157 Westcott Avenue, Hamilton. The show provides an opportunity for both fine art photographers and local hobbyists to capture the cultural and ecological richness of the marshlands and participate in the Friends’ efforts to build awareness and support for the protection and stewardship of the marshlands. A prospectus is available at abbottmarshlands.org. more

“TAKE UNTO THEE SWEET SPICES”: This oil on canvas work by Tracy DiTolla was selected for The Center for Contemporary Art’s 2022 “International Juried Exhibition.” The show is on view through February 26. DiTolla was also awarded a future solo exhibit at the center in Bedminster.

The Center for Contemporary Art’s 2022 “International Juried Exhibition” is on view through February 26. For the exhibit, juror Erin Jenoa Gilbert selected 48 pieces by 30 artists from 590 entries from 204 artists from across the United States and as far away as Canada, Cuba, Japan, Singapore, Sudan, and Ukraine. New Jersey artists selected for the exhibition are Tracy DiTolla (Wyckoff), Steven Epstein (Edison), Sandy Furst (Basking Ridge), Anita Gladstone (Springfield), Valerie Huhn (Flemington), David Z. Orban (Trenton), Robert Reid (Frenchtown), and Chrissy Wallace (Millington).

Three artists were awarded cash prizes. First Prize: Alireza Vaziri Rahimi (Davis, Calif.); Second Prize: Monica Mendes (Miami, Fla.); and Third Prize: Myra Joyce Nowlin (Abilene, Texas). more

STYLIZED ART: Work by Plainsboro artist, designer, and illustrator Terrance Cummings will be on view at the Plainsboro Public Library through the end of March. An artist talk is scheduled for February 5 at 2 p.m.

Plainsboro artist, designer, and illustrator Terrance Cummings will show his work in the Plainsboro Public Library gallery during the months of February and March.

Opening February 1, the show will feature Cummings’ graphic work, which often consists of flattened areas of color assembled into stylized figures. Classically trained in figurative drawing, the artist often uses the human figure as his main subject.

Cummings describes his art as “socially relevant” and says he aims to create art that “addresses a problem.”  He says he hopes “to provide positive depictions and alternatives to some of the challenging issues of today.” more

January 19, 2022

By Stuart Mitchner

“It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.”

—Martin Luther King Jr. (1929-1968)

“With knowledge you can grasp tight a belief: that you  can be better, that the world can be better. With that, you can claim hope.”

—Sidney Poitier (1927-2022)

Accompanying NPR’s complete transcript of Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech is a photograph showing King inside the Lincoln Memorial with a dozen unidentified men that the caption describes as “civil rights leaders.” The group posed at the base of the statue present a mélange of facial expressions frozen in the moment, some appropriately somber and pensive, others abstracted, edgy, uncomfortable. The most relaxed person in the picture would seem to be King himself. The sternest, strangest expression, however, is Abraham Lincoln’s. Probably I’m reading the troubles of the present day into that gaze, but in King’s birthday week, January 2022, it’s as if Lincoln were staring past the “dream” into the “urgency of the moment.”

Poitier and King

Martin Luther King Jr. was 34 in the photograph taken at the memorial on August 28, 1963. At around the same age, Sidney Poitier was coming into his own as an actor. I’ve been reading his book, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography (HarperSanFrancisco 2000) and watching film clips on the time machine jukebox of YouTube. I’d forgotten the power of his presence, his extraordinary intensity. Hauled into the office of the small town sheriff played by Rod Steiger in Norman Jewison’s In the Heat of the Night, he commands the scene simply by standing there staring while Steiger outdoes himself performing a Method actor bigot. The Black Philadelphia homicide cop Virgil Tibbs regards this performative display as if Steiger were auditioning for a part in Poitier’s film. Made four years after the “I Have a Dream” speech, Heat of the Night won the Best Picture Oscar at the 1968 Academy Awards, with Steiger winning the award for Best Actor (Poitier had won the Best Actor Oscar in 1963 for Lilies of the Field). The awards ceremony had to be moved to April 10, 1968 from April 8, the day King was assassinated at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.  more

MAKEBA COMES TO LIFE: Somi Kakoma stars as South African musician and activist Miriam Makeba in “Dreaming Zenzile,” at McCarter Theatre January 20 through February 13.

McCarter Theatre Center presents the world premiere musical Dreaming Zenzile, based on the life of Miriam Makeba, written and performed by Grammy-nominated international music star Somi Kakoma, known as Somi, January 20 through February 13.

“At her final concert, Makeba delivers the performance of her life, raising the conscience and consciousness of a people,” reads a press release on the show. “But the ancestors are calling — transporting her through the music and fractured memories of her past on a spiritual journey of reconciliation.”

Created and performed by Somi, and directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz, the jazz musical comes to life seven years after Somi started working on the project, and more than a year into the pandemic. Its premiere at The Repertory Theater of St. Louis was halted days before its original opening night in March 2020. Determined to bring Makeba’s inspirational story to the stage, seven celebrated producing organizations joined forces to re-activate the show. This “rolling world premiere” brings together Octopus Theatricals (Hadestown Broadway,) Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, McCarter, New York Theatre Workshop, Arts Emerson, and National Black Theatre.

Makeba was one of the first African singers to make it big around the world, after appearing on The Steve Allen Show in 1959. In the early ’60s, she sang at President John F. Kennedy’s infamous birthday party and charted on Billboard.  more

The next virtual recital in the series Westminster Conservatory at Nassau will be posted on the Nassau Presbyterian Church website on Thursday, January 20 at 12:15 p.m. The recital, at Nassauchurch.org, will feature pianists Galina Prilutskaya and Inessa Gleyzerova Shindel, both members of the Westminster Conservatory faculty.

The program on January 20 includes works for solo piano: Moritz Moszkowski’s Arabesque, op. 15, no. 2; Frederic Chopins Casta Diva, op. D1, no. 1 after Bellini. They will also perform two works by Sidney Smith: Fantaisie Brillante, op. 103 on Verdi’s La Traviata and La Danza, Tarantella napolitana de Rossini, op. 104.

Prilutskaya has performed extensively as a soloist, accompanist, and chamber musician throughout the United States, Germany, and Russia, including special appearances in Richardson Auditorium, Moscow Conservatory, and the Liszt School of Music. Her students have received numerous awards and acknowledgements of excellence in piano study.

Shindel received a master’s degree in music from the Belorussian Academy of Music, Minsk. Her U.S. performances include solo recitals at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall and the Kosciuszko Foundation, and chamber music recitals at Merkin Concert Hall. She was the first prize winner of the Metlife Music Competition.

The next Westminster Conservatory at Nassau recital will be posted on Thursday, February 17. The performers will be Kevin Willois, flute and Patricia Landy, piano.

NEW COMEDY: Bucks County, Pa., life is played for laughs onstage as the ActorsNET co-produces “Reckonings in New Hope” with the newly emerging New Hope Repertory Theater. It opens on January 28 for a three-weekend run.

Reckonings in New Hope by Emmy-winning writer Christopher Canaan bows on ActorsNET’s Heritage Center stage in Morrisville, Pa. on January 28 for a three-weekend run.

The play is described as a serio-comic tale of three childhood friends who reunite at the allegedly most haunted inn in Bucks County for their 50th high school reunion. Each man is dealing with life-altering situations while committing to buy and save the inn from outside developers. Canaan, Joey Perillo, and George Hartpence co-star.

“ActorsNET has presented two of Mr. Canaan’s other plays in previous seasons, The Big Bad Wolf: An Adult Fairy Tale about Fear, Forgiveness and Sexual Identity and Sprinkles & Glaze. Both were very successful projects,” said ActorsNET Artistic Director Cheryl Doyle. “This show was a perfect opportunity to again collaborate with Chris, who is also the artistic director of New Hope Rep, to bring another new Bucks County romp to our stage.” more

PIANO PRODIGY: Westminster Conservatory student Pablo Ramirez-Garcia, right, shown with his teacher Teresa Lim, has ranked first in the Royal Conservatory of Music’s national examinations for piano.

Pablo Ramirez-Garcia, a student of Teresa Lim at the Westminster Conservatory of Music, received the highest score for piano in the Royal Conservatory of Music’s (RCM) national examinations.

As a Level 7 National Gold Award winner, he was invited to perform at the Royal Conservatory’s Celebration of Excellence Recital in Toronto in November. A student at South Brunswick High School, he is one of only two students in the United States to receive this RCM award.

The Royal Conservatory is one of the largest and most respected music education institutions in the world. Its annual examinations provide a national standard for students, parents, and teachers to track and measure progress and achievements. Preparing for and successfully completing an examination builds self-confidence and helps students develop a sense of pride.

Established in 1970, Westminster Conservatory is the community music school of Rider University’s Westminster College of the Arts.

Bob Krist

Phillips’ Mill Photo has announced that esteemed freelance photographer Bob Krist will be the sole juror for the 2022 Phillips’ Mill Photo Exhibition. This will be the first time since 2018 that the show will be on the gallery walls at the historic Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pa. The exhibition will run from April 2–22.

Krist’s freelance photography and filmmaking for National Geographic, National Geographic Traveler, Smithsonian, and Islands magazines and other clients have taken him to more than 150 countries on all seven continents.

During these assignments, he has captured not only some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery, but also the fascinating characters, cultural rituals, and simple everyday occurrences that make life so interesting. However, he doesn’t like to think of himself as a great adventurer. Rather, he says he’s just a visual storyteller whose early days as a photojournalist taught him to intuitively seek beauty, truth, and the most compelling human interest angle.  more

“LIFE & DEATH II”: This work by Kelly Wang is part of “Between Heartlands / Kelly Wang,” on view at the Princeton University Art Museum’s Art@Bainbridge gallery on Nassau Street through February 27.

New York-based artist Kelly Wang (born 1992) combines ancient and contemporary influences to create multimedia works resonant with elements of cultural identity and personal grief. She creates what she terms landscapes of the heart — heartscapes — that revolve around places, people, or events with which she has a deep affinity. “Between Heartlands / Kelly Wang” features 32 works of art from the last six years, including recent acquisitions from the Princeton University Art Museum’s own collections, that challenge the way we think about heritage and how we perceive the world around us. Walking a tightrope between past and future, East and West, Wang pushes the boundaries of calligraphy, painting, and sculpture in new ways while confronting prejudice, life, and death.

“Between Heartlands / Kelly Wang” is curated by Cary Y. Liu, the Nancy and Peter Lee curator of Asian art at the Princeton University Art Museum. The exhibition is on view at the Museum’s contemporary gallery Art@Bainbridge in downtown Princeton through February 27.

“Installed in historic Bainbridge House, Kelly Wang’s innovative work bridging eras, cultures, and techniques is beautifully crafted in ways that invite each of us to consider memory, the past, the need for refuge, and ultimately to awaken a sense of our shared humanity,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, director.

The exhibition opens with a group of cosmetic compacts, titled Thank You for Reminding Me of My Rich Cultural Past (2021), that documents slurs from Wang’s school days through to the present, when COVID-19 sparked a rise in anti-Asian hatred. Women use mirrored compacts to look at themselves, yet Wang’s intervention of burnt-paper words covering the mirrors makes visible what certain others may see, think, and hate.  more

ARTISTS TALK: The Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie will host a talk with artists featured in the exhibit “Painting the Moon and Beyond” on Wednesday, January 26 from 7 to 8 p.m. via Zoom. From left, Ilene Dube, Dan Finaldi, Jeff Epstein, Elizabeth O’Reilly, and Jean Perkes gather in front of Mel Leipzig’s portrait of Lois Dodd.

The Trenton City Museum invites the public to join the artists of “Painting the Moon and Beyond” in an online talk on Wednesday, January 26, from 7 to 8 p.m. Lois Dodd, Jeff Epstein, Dan Finaldi, Elizabeth O’Reilly, and Mel Leipzig will talk about their relationships to one another, how their friendships have helped them grow as artists, painting outside at night, and anything attendees ask during the talk’s Q&A.

Registration is required to receive the Zoom link. Register at ellarslie.org or call (609) 989-1191 for more information. more

January 12, 2022

By Stuart Mitchner

O what an account I could give you of the Bay of Naples if I could once more feel myself a Citizen of this world — I feel a spirit in my Brain would lay it forth pleasantly.”

—John Keats, from one of his last letters

In virtually every episode of Gomorrah, the Italian series about organized crime in Naples, currently streaming on HBO Max, there are glimpses of the setting that Keats, dying at 25, longed to put into words.

I found some words that accord with my general impression of Gomorrah — “I dream of a darkness darker than black” — in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine (“The Capitol Police and the Scars of Jan. 6”). The quote comes from the journal of an officer who “felt himself  spiraling downward in the days following the attack.”

Curious but Wary

For years my wife and I had been curious about but wary of Gomorrah, which debuted on Sundance in 2014. So we kept our distance, under a self-imposed form of protective custody. And now we’re paying HBO Max to be sucked into the vortex of a kill-or-be-killed, no-light-at-the-end-of-the tunnel, “darker-than-black” viewing experience.

We finished Season 2 on January 6. The images replayed on the first anniversary of the attack on the Capitol made it clear that no amount of simulated murder and mayhem, however brilliantly shot and graphically executed, could compare with the shocking spectacle of a real-life insurrection, and for all the staged shootings, beatings, throat-slashings and other innumerable acts of violence in Gomorrah nothing could match the glaring intensity of the moment a young cop is crushed by the roaring, pounding mob, pinned against a door frame, screaming in pain, crying out in agony. The real thing is very hard to watch. You have to look away even now, when you know the officer in question survived.  more

Submissions are being accepted for the 2022 Princeton Environmental Film Festival (PEFF), a signature Princeton Public Library event featuring films and filmmaker talks and other presentations which explore sustainability, environmental issues, and life on our planet.

The festival will be presented in April with special screenings taking place throughout the year. The submission deadline for the April event is February 7.

An entry form is available at princetonlibrary.org/peff along with additional information about the festival. There is no fee to submit a film for consideration.

The Princeton Environmental Film Festival is under the direction of Susan Conlon and Kim Dorman, whose focus is to present films with local, regional, and international relevance, and engage the community in exploring environmental sustainability from a wide range of angles and perspectives. Screenings are free and made possible through funding from the Church & Dwight Employee Giving Fund and The Whole Earth Center of Princeton, and others.

Questions about submitting a film or PEFF can be emailed to peff@princetonlibrary.org.

Due to the Princeton University’s COVID-19 threat level, the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra has canceled its January 14 concert that was scheduled at Richardson Auditorium on the campus. The orchestra will perform as scheduled at the Count Basie Theatre in Red Bank on January 15, and New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark on January 16.

Ticket-holders can exchange their tickets for another performance, among other ticket options. Visit tickets@njsymphony.org or call (800) 255-3476.

The weekend’s program features Vladimir Feltsman performing Grieg’s Piano Concerto under the baton of conductor Audrey Boreyko, Stravinsky’s Petrushka, and the U.S. premiere of Ades’ Shanty — Over the Sea.

Due to the current COVID-19 surge, New York City Ballet has postponed the opening of its winter season at Lincoln Center from January 18 to January 27. The remaining season, planned through February 27, features world premieres by Justin Peck and Jamar Roberts, as well as familiar works by George Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Kyle Abraham, Pam Tanowitz, and Merce Cunningham. Taylor Stanley and Princeton native Unity Phelan are seen here in Robbins’ “Moves.” Visit nycb.com for ticket information.

M’kina Tapscott

Artworks Trenton has announced the appointment of M’kina Tapscott as executive director, beginning January 18. The selection of Tapscott followed an intensive search and selection process. Tapscott succeeds Lauren Otis, executive director since February 2016, who in 2021 announced his intention to step down.

Tapscott’s 15-year career in education, access, curation, and advocacy resonates with Artworks’ mission “to connect community, culture, and creativity through the arts.” Beginning with her work as director of education and programs at Project Row Houses, an art and social service development in Houston, Texas, and continuing through education and outreach positions at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, Tapscott has championed the primacy of art in building community and advancing social change. Concurrent with her curatorial and administrative work, Tapscott has taught art history and studio art at all levels — most recently at the University of Houston and Houston Community College. A practicing artist, she holds an MFA from the University of Houston and a BFA from Texas State University.

In responding to her appointment, Tapscott said, “As a city, Trenton continues to struggle for resources and recognition despite being the state capital. Artworks is deeply committed to partnering with those working to improve and revitalize Trenton, using art as a change agent, and celebrating human diversity in all its forms. I appreciate the similarities between the communities in Trenton, N.J., and my hometown Houston, Texas. It is in these likenesses of needs, of opportunity and space where positive change can be enacted through deepening connections to people, art, and community. I genuinely believe ‘el arte cambia a la gente y la gente cambia el mundo.’ This is where the work truly lives, and I intend to lead this organization in service of that need to inspire all of greater Mercer County.” more

“SHADOWS ON THE MILL”: The Arts Council of Princeton’s fast-paced Princeton Pecha returns for a fifth virtual installment on Wednesday, January 19, welcoming six area artists, including Bill Jersey, whose work is shown here. Registration is free at artscouncilofprinceton.org.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) presents Princeton Pecha on January 19 from 8 to 9:15 p.m., 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.

This iteration — the ACP’s fifth — will feature artists Jane Adriance, Beatrice Bork, Bill Jersey, Joe Kazimierczyk, Laura Renner, and Carol Sanzalone. Each artist will show 20 slides for 20 seconds each (about 7 minutes per artist), exhibiting for the audience an array of visual expression.

Watercolor and oil paint are Adriance’s mediums of communication; color is the language she uses to create light, line, space, texture, and rhythms. Adriance paints what is exotic to her in her daily life. She likes to create startling contradictions between the everyday and the unknown. She has had solo exhibits in the Princeton area, New York, and Philadelphia, and has participated in many group exhibitions.

Bork’s artistic inspiration and knowledge of nature come from firsthand field experiences, both at home in New Jersey, as well as abroad. Over her 30-year career, she has amassed a list of awards and honors, including signature status in the prestigious Society of Animal Artists. her work has been included in solo and juried exhibitions throughout the U.S., and abroad. more

“TROUBLED WATER”: This painting by Brandon Moultrie is featured in “Art Against Racism: Manifesting Beloved Community,” on view through February 26 at the West Windsor Arts Center. A hybrid opening reception is scheduled for Sunday, January 16 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Beloved Community,” “Art Against Racism: Manifesting Beloved Community” imagines what it would be like to live in a world where social and economic justice flourish and structural racism ceases to exist. The art represents a global vision where all people share in the wealth of a healed planet. Submissions that speak to or re-envision society’s transformation into a world of healthy people, relationships, and communities in personal or public contexts were encouraged. more