July 20, 2022

“OLD MASTERS”: This work by Rose B. Simpson is featured in “Witness / Rose B. Simpson,” on  view July 23 through September 11 at the Princeton University Art Museum’s Art@Bainbridge gallery on Nassau Street. An opening celebration is on Saturday, July 23 from 1 to 4 p.m.

A selection of sculptural figures by mixed-media artist Rose B. Simpson invites visitors to reflect on the fundamental aspects of being human. “Witness / Rose B. Simpson” will be on view July 23 through September 11 at the Princeton University Art Museum’s Art@Bainbridge gallery on Nassau Street.

An opening celebration will be held on Saturday, July 23 at the gallery from 1 to 4 p.m.

“Simpson’s materially and texturally rich sculptures invite us into dialogue, seeking an empathetic response that can pull us out of ourselves,” said James Steward, Nancy A. Nasher–David J. Haemisegger, Class of 1976, director. “They look back at us, demanding introspection and acknowledgment of our actions.”

Simpson’s work interrogates the human condition as an accumulation of lived experiences, distilling specific aspects of such moments in her own life into each sculpture. Through her work, Simpson seeks the tools to heal the damages she has experienced as a human being — issues such as objectification, stereotyping and, the disempowering detachment of our creative selves through modern technology.

Simpson holds a master of fine arts in ceramics from the Rhode Island School of Design and a master of fine arts in creative nonfiction from the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe. She is based in Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico. more

This work by Padma Aleti is featured in “Summer Nights,” on view through August 20 at the Gallery at the Thompson Park Creative Arts Center, Lincroft. Aleti will participate in an artist talk on Wednesday, August 10 from 1-4 p.m., along with artists Ann Marie Fitzsimmons and Marie Maber.

This painting by Joelle Hofbauer is featured in “By the Light of Day — a Plein Air Exhibition,” on view through August 27 at the West Windsor Arts Center, 952 Alexander Road, West Windsor. For more information, visit westwindsorarts.org.

July 13, 2022

By Stuart Mitchner

Half a year into his presidency, on July 2, 1961, John F. Kennedy released a statement on the death of Ernest Hemingway. After mentioning the Nobel Prize-winning author’s “impact on the emotions and attitudes of the American people” and how he had “almost singlehandedly transformed the literature and the ways of thought of men and women in every country in the world,” Kennedy declared that Hemingway “ended his life as he began it — in the heartland of America to which he brought renown and from which he drew his art.” 

The connection between Hemingway and Kennedy is sealed not only by the presence of the writer’s papers and effects at the Kennedy Presidential Library but by the fact that both men died of gun shots to the head, the writer by his own hand, the president less than three years later by the hand of an assassin.

Why This Image?

The first time I saw the cover of Ernest Hemingway: Artifacts from a Life (Scribner 2018), I wanted to put it aside, out of sight. It troubled me, made me uneasy, the underlying question being not what did this man create but what happened to him? Instead of a more characteristic photograph that makes you think of his best work, you’re met with a strikingly uncharacteristic, undated, uncredited photograph that appears to come from the 1930s when he  was actually on his way to fame and fortune, having already produced the first stories, The Sun Also Rises, and A Farewell to Arms.

Given what you know and value of Hemingway at his best, the more you see of this deeply unhappy face, the more it moves you. What is he trying to say? What is he afraid of? Who or what is he mourning? That baleful stare won’t let you go, there’s no denying it, no looking away. Round and round you go asking  yourself unanswerable questions until you feel like Nick Adams at the end of “The Killers,” fretting over the impending fate of a doomed man and being told “You better not think about it.”

 more

By Nancy Plum

The piano quartet is an unusual form of music. Leaving out the second violin part of the string quartet, piano quartets create opportunities for unusual combinations of musical colors and timbres from violin, viola, cello, and keyboard. The performance collective known as Manhattan Chamber Players sent a “subset” of its musical roster to Richardson Auditorium last Friday night to present two piano quartets demonstrating the quick evolution and popularity of the form.

As Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was reaching his compositional peak in the 1780s, the piano was in its infancy — mostly appearing in concerti and salon pieces. There was little use of the instrument in chamber music, and when Mozart was commissioned to write a set of piano quartets, the first was deemed “too difficult” by the publisher. Little did the composer know that the form would take off in the 19th century, and the two quartets not successful in his lifetime would later become quite popular.

The ensemble of musicians from Manhattan Chamber Players presented the second of Mozart’s two piano quartets Friday night. Violinist Brendan Speltz, violist Luke Fleming, cellist Brook Speltz, and pianist David Fung performed Piano Quartet in E-flat Major with all the grace and elegance one would expect from Mozart, expertly mastering the virtuosity which apparently rendered the work too challenging for the average 18th-century instrumentalist.

The Manhattan Chamber Players began Mozart’s Quartet with ensemble refinement from the outset, aided by especially fluid keyboard passages from Fung. Violin and piano had a number of well-played duets, with subtle accompaniment from viola and cello. Brendan Speltz and Fleming played well-tuned intervals between violin and viola in the first movement, while the second movement Larghetto was marked by clarity from the piano. The string instruments played a bit of musical tag in the closing movement, while Fung skillfully maneuvered fiendish piano lines. Throughout this movement, the piano dared the strings to supply elegant answers to its musical “questions.” more

“THE MIGHTY ZEP”: Get The Led Out brings the music of Led Zeppelin to the State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick on August 6. (Photo by Lisa Schaffer)

State Theatre New Jersey presents Get The Led Out: A Celebration of “The Mighty Zep” on Saturday, August 6 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $25-$65.

Get The Led Out (GTLO) captures the essence of the recorded music of Led Zeppelin and brings it to the concert stage. The Philadelphia-based group consists of six veteran musicians intent on delivering Led Zeppelin live, as never heard before. GTLO re-create the songs with the studio overdubs that Zeppelin themselves never performed.

Dubbed by the media as “The American Led Zeppelin,” GTLO offers a strong focus on the early years. They also touch on the deeper cuts that were seldom, if ever heard in concert. GTLO also includes a special acoustic set with Zep favorites such as “Tangerine” and “Hey Hey What Can I Do.”

The group features Paul Sinclair (lead vocals, harmonica), Paul Hammond (electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, theremin), Tommy Marchiano (electric and acoustic guitars, vocals), Eddie Kurek (keyboards, guitar, vocals, percussion), Adam Ferraioli (drums, percussion), and Phil D›Agostino (bass, vocals).

The State Theatre New Jersey is at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick. Visit stnj.org for tickets.

SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE: The Arts Council of Princeton is now accepting vendor applications for its annual Sauce for the Goose Outdoor Art Market. Artists and crafters are encouraged to apply to sell their wares at this pop-up market on Saturday, November 12 along Paul Robeson Place. The deadline for submissions is September 1.

The Arts Council of Princeton is now accepting vendor applications for its annual Sauce for the Goose Outdoor Art Market. Artists and crafters are encouraged to apply to sell their wares at this pop-up market, now in its 29th year, on Saturday, November 12.

Sauce for the Goose will return to its roots in downtown Princeton, this year taking place on Paul Robeson Place, just steps from the doors of the Arts Council. The market will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will feature a myriad of creative vendors offering high-quality, handmade works in anticipation of the holiday season.

The Arts Council looks forward to welcoming back returning vendors as well as introducing new talent to the sale. Artistic Director Maria Evans said, “Every year, we’re blown away by the diversity in offerings from Sauce for the Goose artisans. For this year’s market, we’re more excited than ever to hear from new and emerging vendors to continue to offer our area’s most impressive art market. We are really looking forward to working with returning vendors and meeting new artists.”

Applications are available at artscouncilofprinceton.org. The deadline for submissions is Thursday, September 1 at 11:59 p.m.

“THRIVE”: Historic Walnford in Upper Freehold hosts an interdisciplinary art exhibit through July 7, 2023. An opening reception is on Thursday, July 14 from 5 to 9 p.m.

The Monmouth County Park System now presents the interdisciplinary art exhibit “Thrive” at Historic Walnford, 62 Walnford Road in Upper Freehold.   

Exploring the cyclical nature of the world around us, this exhibit invites visitors to experience the flow of life through the works of featured artists Alice Momm, Maureen Bennett, Susan Hoenig, and Katrina Bello. The intimate one-room exhibit is open daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through July 7, 2023. An opening reception is on Thursday, July 14 from 5 to 9 p.m. 

Visitors to the exhibit should plan to spend some time exploring Historic Walnford. This historic district features a 19th century gristmill, the elegant Waln family home (1773), a carriage house, and an assortment of outbuildings. The site showcases over 200 years of social, technological, and environmental history through the Waln family and offers weekend mill demonstrations April through November.  Admission and parking for both the exhibit and the site are free.  

For more information about the “Thrive” exhibit or Historic Walnford, visit MonmouthCountyParks.com or call (732) 842-4000.

OPEN AIR ART: This work by Bob Barish is featured in “By The Light of Day: Plein Air Show,” on view through August 27 at the West Windsor Arts Center. An opening reception will be held on July 15 from 6 to 8 p.m.

West Windsor Arts Center, 952 Alexander Road, West Windsor, presents “By The Light of Day: Plein Air Show,on view through August 27. An opening reception is on Friday, July 15 from 6 to 8 p.m. Free admission. 

For this exhibition, West Windsor Arts invited artists to enter their en plein air artwork; artwork done outdoors. According to the organization, since the 1800s painting en plein air has allowed artists to capture the emotional and sensory dimensions of a particular landscape at a particular moment in time. It expresses a spirit of spontaneity and truth to personal impulse within art. Impressionist artist Vincent van Gogh was notably a fan of plein air painting, or the practice of painting in the great outdoors. Other impressionist painters such as Claude Monet, Camille Pissarro, Alfred Sisley, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir advocated plein air painting, and much of their work was done outdoors in the diffuse light of a large white umbrella. Decisions have to be made quickly, therefore painting reactions are more intuitive.

Exhibiting artists include Bob Barish, Larry Chestnut, Emily Chiles, Huchen Courouleau, Magda Dodd, Carlo Fiorentini, Michael Graham, Marzena Haupa, Joelle Hofbauer, Margaret Kalvar-Bushnell, Snehal Kumbhar, Lori Langsner, Yun Li, Patrick Lieg, Christopher Mac Kinnon, Mary Manahan, Denise McDaniel, Mark Oldland, Neelam Padte, Rupa Sanbui, Aurelle Sprout, David Terrar, Mary Lou Thomas, Maria Vasquez, and Lei Yua.

For more information, visit westwindsorarts.org.

“COSMOS AT PHILLIPS”: Ann Thomas of Stockton received the Curator’s Award for her painting in “Ellarslie Open 39,” on view through October 2 at the Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion in Cadwalader Park. Thirty-one of 134 exhibiting artists received awards in this year’s juried exhibition.

Thirty-one of 134 exhibiting artists received awards during last month’s artists’ reception for Ellarslie Open 39 at Trenton City Museum at Ellarslie Mansion. The annual juried exhibition showcases this year over 160 artworks by artists from greater Trenton and throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, as well as Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., and Texas. Deborah Oliver oversaw the installation of the diverse artwork that fills gallery and display areas throughout the museum. Most of the artwork is available for purchase.

Before a crowd of 350 artists and guests, Trenton Museum Society’s Patricia Allen, juror Walter Wickiser, and Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora gave welcoming remarks, with Mayor Gusciora then delivering the awards.

Carole Doerr Allen of Flemington won the Doug Palmer Award for Best in Show, Overall, for her painting Dark Horse; Storm Approaching.

“If the exhibition offered unlimited space, I would have chosen all artists who entered,” said Wickiser of New York City’s Walter Wickiser Gallery. “All had something important to express and were worthy. My choices and awards were no easy task, as I felt for each and every artist and artwork.”

Category winners were Tasha Branham (digital), North Brunswick; Diane Greenberg (drawing), New Hope, Pa.; Caroline Feiveson (fiber arts), Princeton; David Gootnick (mixed media), Washington, D.C.; Kathleen Beausoleil (painting), Fair Haven; Alexandra Pietsch (pastel), Ewing; Jeffrey Weiser (photography), Bensalem, Pa.; Marc Schimsky (printmaking), Yardley, Pa.; Michael Pascucci (sculpture), Monroe Township; and Elizabeth Oberman (watercolor), Flemington. more

July 6, 2022

By Stuart Mitchner

Key West (Philosopher Pirate),” the widely acclaimed last track on Bob Dylan’s 2020 album Rough and Rowdy Ways, sent me back to the New York chapter of his memoir Chronicles (2004).

Titled “The Lost Land,” the chapter ends in a Greenwich Village coffee shop where “the waitress at the lunch counter wore a close-fitting suede blouse” that “outlined the well-rounded lines of her body. She had blue-black hair and piercing blue eyes, clear stenciled eyebrows. I was wishing she’d pin a rose on me. She poured the steaming coffee and I turned back towards the street window. The whole city was dangling in front of my nose.” Dylan’s sudden, seemingly impulsive reference to the rose is a whimsical touch of style, like a tip of the derby from Chaplin’s tramp, and the rhyming of rose and nose suggests a song in the making he knows is out there waiting to be found and finished: “I had a vivid idea where everything was. The future was nothing to worry about.” The last word of the chapter’s boyish, wide-eyed last sentence  completes the rhyme: “It was awfully close.”

I think of the waitress and the rose whenever I hear songs like “Absolutely Sweet Marie” and “Tangled Up in Blue,” or lines from “Key West” like “Fly around my Pretty Little Miss / I don’t love nobody — gimme a kiss.” Or “Make me invisible, like the wind” from “Mother of Muses.”

“Feeling Wondrous”

Another place “Key West” sent me was Van Morrison’s Belfast, an easy move along the glowing dial from station WBD to WVAN, from the philosopher pirate searching for “love and inspiration” on that pirate radio station to the kid growing up on Hyndford Street, where you “could feel the silence on long summer nights as the wireless played Radio Luxembourg, jazz and blues,” which leaves you “feeling wondrous and lit up inside with a sense of everlasting life.”  more

“THE GREAT GATSBY”: Princeton Summer Theater has staged “The Great Gatsby.” Directed by PST’s 2022 Artistic Director Ethan Boll, the play with music has been presented June 24-July 3 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Above: Narrator Nick Carraway (Jay White, center) encounters Jordan Baker (Megan Pan, left) at the home of his cousin, Daisy (Allison Spann, right). (Photo by Raquel Ramirez)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

A bit over a century ago, F. Scott Fitzgerald arrived at Princeton University, which he attended from 1913-1917. As a student, the aspiring author wrote stories and poems for the Triangle Club, the Princeton Tiger, and Nassau Lit.

During his sophomore year, Fitzgerald returned home to Saint Paul, Minn., during Christmas break. There, he met and fell in love with Ginevra King. The Chicago socialite became the basis of several characters in Fitzgerald’s novels — particularly Daisy Buchanan in The Great Gatsby.

Although the 1925 novel is told from the point of view of Daisy’s cousin Nick Carraway, Gatsby and Daisy’s relationship mirrors Fitzgerald’s courtship of King. Prefiguring a line in the novel, King’s father disdainfully told Fitzgerald, “Poor boys shouldn’t think of marrying rich girls.” (Eventually King married a wealthy Chicago businessman, and Fitzgerald married Zelda Sayre.)

In The Great Gatsby the now-wealthy title character buys a house across from Daisy’s home, with the express purpose of persuading her to resume their relationship. This arouses the jealousy of Daisy’s domineering and philandering husband, Tom, who contrives to eliminate his rival.

Almost a century after the publication of The Great Gatsby, a stage version of the classic novel has been presented at Fitzgerald’s alma mater. Making a welcome return following a (pandemic-enforced) three-year hiatus, the student-run Princeton Summer Theater (PST) has opened their 2022 season with Simon Levy’s adaptation, which received its world premiere at the Guthrie Theater in 2006.

Levy successfully adapts the novel for the stage, succinctly highlighting the backstory and dynamics between the characters. He is faithful to the plot but does not follow the novel slavishly; he converts some of Fitzgerald’s prose into dialogue for the narrator, Nick Carraway, highlighting the character’s development.

PST’s production adopts Levy’s suggestion (printed in the script) to include live music; an onstage band performs before and during the performance. Saxophonist and clarinetist Henry Raker, drummer Paolo Montoya, and bassist Cliff Wilson — led by Music Director Ned Furlong — establish the grit and glamour of the Jazz Age. more

CELTIC INFLUENCES: The Chivalrous Crickets will perform at the West Windsor Arts Center on July 9 at 7 p.m.

West Windsor Arts presents the Chivalrous Crickets, an up-and-coming, Celtic-infused folk band, in concert at the arts center on Saturday, July 9, from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

The music of the Chivalrous Crickets cannot be defined by a single genre but instead is a unique blend of Irish, English, and American folk music.

“We love to showcase local talent and bring people together to enjoy the arts in our community. The Crickets come from all over the country but found a home base in West Windsor during the pandemic,” said Aylin Green, executive director of West Windsor Arts. “After they played at a house party not far from the arts center, the word got out fast — you’ve got to hear this group.”

Established in 2018, the band is composed of several musicians with highly diverse musical backgrounds, ranging from traditional Celtic, English, Appalachian, and popular to early medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, and other classical music. Each member sings and plays a variety of instruments, from bass to bassoon, fiddle to lute, and writes original, contemporary music with deep roots in traditional and ancient sounds.  more

BLUE CURTAIN IS BACK: The summer concert series presents the Ali Ryerson/Peter Levin Quintet, shown here, on July 30, and the Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra on July 16.

Blue Curtain, a Princeton summer tradition, returns to the Pettoranello Gardens Amphitheater, Route 206 and Mountain Avenue, with two free concerts in July. The Eddie Palmieri Salsa Orchestra performs July 16, and the Ali Ryerson/Peter Levin Quintet is on stage July 30. Both concerts begin at 7:30 p.m.

Grammy Award-winning pianist Palmieri is an arranger and composer with a unique take on salsa and Latin jazz. Named an NEA jazz master in 2013, he fuses the rhythm of his Puerto Rican heritage with the complexity of his jazz influences: Thelonious Monk, Herbie Hancock, and McCoy Tyner.

The orchestra includes Raul Agraz (trumpet), Anthony Almonte (vocals), Jimmy Bosch (trombone), Jose Claussell (bongo), Luques Curtis (bass), Louis Fouche (alto saxophone), Nelson Gonzalez (tres guitar, coro), Leo Gruber (coro), Nadav Nirenberg (trombone), and Vicente “Little Johnny” Rivero (congas).  more

THE MUSIC OF AMERICANA: Singer/songwriter Jonah Tolchin comes to the Hopewell Theater on July 29 at 8 p.m.

Americana singer/songwriter Jonah Tolchin will be performing at the Hopewell Theater on July 29 at 8 p.m. in celebration of his new album Lava Lamp, his fourth release with Yep Roc Records. Tolchin, on vocals and guitar, will be joined by Nic Coolidge on bass and Kevin Clifford and Michael Bosco on drums and percussion.

Princeton resident Tolchin began his career as a DIY artist, hitting the road as a teenager and self-releasing his own music until signing with Yep Roc for his 2014 label debut, Clover Lane. The album was recorded in Nashville with a slew of special guests including Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin and Deer Tick’s John McCauley.

Tolchin followed it up in 2016 with Thousand Mile Night, which has racked up more than 11 million streams on Spotify with its title track alone, and 2019’s Fires for the Cold, which featured appearances by Jackson Browne, Rickie Lee Jones, and Sara Watkins.  more

Eisa Davis

Bulrusher by Eisa Davis, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama in 2007, will be produced by McCarter Theatre Center May 6-28, 2023 on the main stage of the Roger S. Berlind Theater. The production – with casting to be announced – will be directed by McCarter Associate Artistic Director Nicole A. Watson.

Bulrusher was a recent streaming success, garnering wide attention during the height of the pandemic when the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel launched the digital theater series Bard at the Gate, now co-curated by Vogel and Watson in association with McCarter.

The play is set in 1955 in the redwood country north of San Francisco. A multiracial girl grows up in a predominantly white town whose residents pepper their speech with the historical dialect of Boontling. Found floating in a basket on the river as an infant, Bulrusher is an orphan with a gift for clairvoyance that makes her feel like a stranger even around those who think they know her best: the taciturn schoolteacher who adopted her, the madam who runs her brothel with a fierce discipline, the logger with a zest for horses and women, and the guitar-slinging boy who is after Bulrusher’s heart. Just when she thought her world might close in on her, she discovers an entirely new sense of self when a Black girl from Alabama comes to town. more

ART SHOW RETURNS: The nonprofit Stover Mill Gallery will host its “Juried Art Show” this fall after a two-year hiatus. It will be the ninth juried show for the gallery. A call for entries will be out later this summer.

In its 62nd year of operation, the Stover Mill Gallery in Erwinna, Pa., has announced the return of its “Juried Art Show” this fall after a two-year hiatus. It will be the ninth juried show for the gallery, which is delighted to have two exemplary jurors for this year’s submissions.

Following her studies at the famed Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y., Mavis Smith worked as a children’s book illustrator, creating over 70 books for prestigious publishers. Working from her Solebury, Pa., studio, she is best known for her paintings in egg tempera, a medium that enhances the surreal aspect of her subjects. Smith has exhibited her paintings in Amsterdam, Santa Fe, and New York City, as well as a one-person show at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa.

Rhonda Garland directs the Silverman Gallery of Bucks County, which showcases the work of artists who reflect the traditions of regional Impressionism. She is also a painter whose works reflect her fascination with a broad range of artists, including Diebenkorn, Miro, Klee, and the recently rediscovered Hilma af Klint. Her paintings in acrylic, watercolor, ink, and gouache have been shown and sold in a number of regional galleries and juried shows. Garland is an expert calligrapher, for which she has won a number of awards. more

“INTERWOVEN STORIES”: Artist/activist Diana Weymar will give an artist talk on July 11 at 5:30 p.m. in the Arts Council of Princeton’s Taplin Gallery, where her community stitching project, “Interwoven Stories,” is on display.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) will host Diana Weymar for an artist talk on Monday, July 11 at 5:30 p.m. in its Taplin Gallery. Artist-activist Weymar (Princeton ’91) is the creator of “Interwoven Stories,” a community stitching project on view in the ACP’s Taplin Gallery.

The talk will be livestreamed for those who cannot attend. Visit artscouncilofprinceton.org for free registration.

Weymar facilitated “Interwoven Stories” as the ACP’s 2016 artist-in-residence, creating a special dialogue within the Princeton community. Each stitcher received a blank fabric page to tell a story through their memories, honor beloved family or friends, or return home to a favorite place through needle and thread. The response to this project exceeded organizers’ wildest expectations. Each page spoke to the generosity, diversity, spirit, commitment, and creativity of the community and ultimately, more than a hundred completed pages were donated to “Interwoven Stories 2016” and displayed in the Taplin Gallery to mark the culmination of her residency. more

“A WRECK”: This photograph by Alan Klawans is featured in “Car Parts,” his joint exhibition with Richard Harrington, on view July 7 through July 31 at the Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville.

Artists Alan Klawans and Richard Harrington have announced the opening of their joint show, “Car Parts,” on view July 7 through July 31 at the Artists’ Gallery, 18 Bridge Street, Lambertville. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, July 16 from 2 to 5 p.m.

The exhibit features the artists’ interpretation of automobiles and automobile parts in photos and paintings.

Harrington has earned a reputation as an automotive artist, while Klawans is well known for his graphic interpretations of themes as varied as fishing, board games, and travel. Both have been members of the Artists’ Gallery for more than 15 years, but this is just the second time the two have collaborated in a joint exhibition.

An exhibition focusing on automobiles and the components they are assembled from was first proposed by Klawans. more

Mukti Belahal

The work of West Windsor artist Mukti Belahal is on view at the Plainsboro Public Library through August 27. The exhibition, “Inks,” features work in two media: alcohol ink and acrylic fluid art.

A graphic designer by profession, Belahal said the urge to paint with colors on blank canvas has always been a part of her life. Her favorite medium is oil, but she also works with pastels, watercolor, and acrylic paint, in addition to inks. An avid photographer, she often incorporates subjects snapped on nature walks into her artwork. She said her style ranges from realistic to abstract, depending on the demands of the subject.

The show at Plainsboro Library features all abstract pieces. Belahal said she enjoys fluid art because she can “let loose” and allow the paint to create its own design.

“Every medium has its own character,” she said.

Sometimes, as in realistic work, the artist has to control every brush stroke. The 40-plus pieces in the Plainsboro Library show are examples of a more relaxed attention.  more

June 29, 2022

By Stuart Mitchner

The ‘watering down,’ if any, did not come from my aspergillum.

—Vladimir Nabokov, in the Playboy interview

Who else but a high priest of language could anoint the tired old term “watered down” with an implement for sprinkling holy water? Would the average Playboy reader of January 1964 reach for the nearest dictionary or keep reading? In the easy access world of June 2022, I unmasked the elusive aspergillum with a click of an iMac mouse.

This was Nabokov’s way of elaborately denying responsibility for “watering down” the central relationship in Stanley Kubrick’s film of Lolita (1962), the novel’s 12-year-old nymphet having been transformed into a 15-year-old blonde who looked 17. Asked if he was satisfied with the final product, Nabokov deemed the movie “absolutely first-rate,” adding that the “four main actors deserve the very highest praise,” and pointing out that he’d had “nothing to do with the actual production.” more

“BROADWAY POPS!”: Princeton Festival has presented “Broadway POPS!” Above: Broadway and West End star Sierra Boggess, left, joined the PSO in a program of highlights from musical theater. The concert was conducted by Rossen Milanov, right. (Photo by Carolo Pascale.)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Princeton Festival has presented Broadway POPS! Broadway and West End star Sierra Boggess joined the Princeton Symphony Orchestra in a program of highlights from musical theater. The June 24 concert was conducted by the orchestra’s Edward T. Cone Music Director Rossen Milanov.

Boggess made her Broadway debut in the 2007 stage version of Disney’s The Little Mermaid. She has portrayed Christine Daaé in multiple productions of Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera (including the 25th anniversary concert at Royal Albert Hall), as well as the West End premiere of its sequel, Love Never Dies. With Julian Ovenden she has released an album of duets, Together at a Distance.

Broadway POPS! marks Boggess’ third collaboration with the PSO, following appearances in 2017 and 2018. The Olivier Award nominee also starred in The Age of Innocence (2018) at McCarter Theatre.

Boggess and Milanov created a selection that alternated between orchestral and vocal pieces, letting most of the featured composers be represented by at least one of each. The resulting program delighted the audience that packed the Festival’s performance tent on the grounds of Morven Museum & Garden. Boggess remarked that she chose pieces that she wanted to hear the orchestra perform.

The concert opened with an orchestral selection: “The Music Man: Symphonic Impressions,” crafted by Richard Hayman from Meredith Willson’s score. The woodwinds, especially the flutes, shone with the strings in the lush ballad “’Till There Was You.”  The piece closes with the rousing “76 Trombones.” A Broadway revival of the show opened this past February.

Boggess entered, sporting a bright red dress. Despite her long association with Lloyd Webber’s The Phantom of the Opera, she chose as her first selection “Home,” a song from a different stage adaptation of the Gaston Leroux novel. Phantom (1991) has a book by Arthur Kopit; the music and lyrics are by Maury Yeston. “Home” is a number that opens delicately and ends operatically — a progression often favored by Boggess — waiting until the end to let the singer reveal her high soprano.  more

By Nancy Plum

It is difficult to get audiences indoors on a summer afternoon, but Princeton University Summer Chamber Concerts was able to entice a good crowd into Richardson Auditorium this past weekend. For the second performance of the 2022 season, the Chamber Concerts series presented the Diderot String Quartet, a 10-year-old ensemble with a well-established commitment to historical performance. Violinists Johanna Novom and Adriane Post, violist Kyle Miller, and cellist Paul Dwyer came to Richardson Sunday afternoon to present eight of Johann Sebastian Bach’s most complex fugal compositions and an elegant string quartet by Felix Mendelssohn on period instruments.

J.S. Bach’s The Art of the Fugue was comprised of 14 canons based on a single short theme. Bach subjected this melodic fragment to a combination of contrapuntal treatments, including setting the theme backwards, upside-down, and in varying speeds. The Diderot String Quartet performed eight of these settings, each showing a different side of Bach’s compositional genius.

Although likely conceived for harpsichord, The Art of the Fugue has been adapted well to various combinations of instruments. “Contrapunctus I” opened with second violinist Adriane Post presenting the theme, followed by all instruments in fugal fashion. The Quartet’s period instruments provided a more understated and refined sound than modern instruments might have, requiring the audience to listen harder to the intimate ensemble sound. Throughout the Bach work, the Diderot Quartet paid a great deal of attention to dynamics, swelling and decreasing the sound together. 

Each “Contrapunctus” treated the theme in an altered way, often opening with a different instrument and pairing the strings in varied combinations of color. Violist Miller and cellist Dwyer were particularly well matched in sound, and violinists Post and Novom often provided extended passages of well-tuned intervals. The eight short movements became more complex as the work went on, with faster-moving lines for the players and dotted rhythms with varying degrees of Baroque “swing.” Dwyer played melodic sequences in “Contrapunctus III” sensitively, with the closing movement requiring expert technical facility from all the instrumentalists.  more

A NOSTALGIC LINEUP: Peter Noone and Herman’s Hermits, the 1960s British band, are among the performers at a festival in Bristol, Pa., this summer.

Bristol Riverside Theatre’s William Penn Bank Summer Music Fest is returning to the Bristol Township Amphitheater with a lineup that will take audiences on a musical journey through the decades.

The second annual summer concert series will feature performances from The Commodores (July 15), Russell Thompkins, Jr. and The New Stylistics with special guest Eddie Holman (July 16), Indigo Girls (August 25), ’70s Flashback (August 26), and culminating with Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone (September 9 and 10).  more

SOUNDS OF SUMMER: Daniel Spalding conducts the Capital Philharmonic at the first concert of the Levitt AMP Trenton Music Series on July 9 in Trenton’s Cadwalader Park.

The Levitt AMP Trenton Music Series is returning to Trenton this summer, with 10 concerts planned in the 110-acre Cadwalader Park and one in Mill Hill Park. The first performance, on Saturday, July 9, will feature the Capital Philharmonic of New Jersey led by music director Daniel Spalding conducting music by John Williams, John Philip Sousa, and Irving Berlin on the program.

The free 10-concert series, presented by Trenton Downtown Association and the African American Cultural Collaborative of Mercer County, will include local, regional, and national artists representing a wide range of musical styles.

The series runs through September 17. Unlike years in the past, all shows will be on Saturday evening, with the exception of the Will Power Funk Band which will perform at Mill Hill Park on Sunday, July 31. Families are encouraged to come out early and enjoy food trucks, food vendors, and more.

Since 2015, Trenton Downtown Association has presented the Levitt AMP Trenton Music Series, 10 free concerts, each summer in downtown Trenton. Trenton is one of 20 current cities across the country that received a grant from the Levitt Foundation to bring people of all ages and backgrounds together to enjoy live-free music in their communities. Visit trenton-downtown.com for more information.