November 16, 2022

SONGS OF THE SEASON: Broadway singer Janet Dacal is guest artist with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra at its annual Holiday POPS! Concert, which is conducted by Rossen Milanov and also features the Princeton High School Choir.

The Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) holds its Holiday POPS! Concert, featuring Broadway singer Janet Dacal (In the Heights, Prince of Broadway, Wonderland, The Band’s Visit–National Tour), on December 17 at 3 and 6 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium. PSO Music Director Rossen Milanov conducts.

Dacal performs songs from the stage and screen, while the Princeton High School Choir adds its voices to traditional carols. Orchestral pieces include Nigel Hess’ A Christmas Overture, music from Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel, and Leroy Anderson’s A Christmas Festival and Sleigh Ride.  more

WESTMINSTER IN NEW YORK: A rehearsal of “El Mesias: Handel’s Messiah for a New World” led by Tyler Weakland, assistant conductor of the Westminster Symphonic Choir. (Photo by Peter G. Borg/Rider University)

Rider University’s Westminster Symphonic Choir, under the direction of Dr. James Jordan, conductor, will perform El Mesías: Handel’s Messiah for a New World on Sunday, November 20 at Christ Church NYC, 524 Park Avenue, in Manhattan. The choir will be joined by the Orchestra of St. Luke’s, and the performance will be led by guest conductor Ruben Valenzuela, artistic director of the Bach Collegium San Diego.

“I am so pleased for Symphonic Choir to be working in collaboration with Maestro Valenzuela and the Orchestra of St. Luke’s on this project,” said Jason Vodicka ’03, ’09, associate dean of Rider’s College of Arts and Sciences and associate professor of music education at Westminster Choir College. “Hearing Handel’s Messiah sung in Spanish brings a fresh, new perspective to the work, and the opportunity for our students to work with these world class musicians is second to none.” more

HOLIDAY CONCERT: Celebrated songstress Patti LaBelle performs holiday classics at the State Theatre New Jersey December 1.

State Theatre New Jersey celebrates the holiday season on Thursday, December 1 at 8 p.m. with Patti LaBelle, who will perform holiday classics and her hit songs. Tickets are $49-$209.

LaBelle has performed a variety of genres throughout her versatile career including rhythm and blues renditions, pop standards, and spiritual sonnets. Her hits include “If Only You Knew,” “When You Talk About Love,” “New Attitude,” “Stir It Up,” and “Lady Marmalade.” 

In addition to her busy touring schedule, LaBelle has written six books, Don’t Block the Blessings, LaBelle Cuisine: Recipes to Sing About, Patti’s Pearls, Patti LaBelle’s Lite Cuisine, Recipes for the Good Life and Desserts LaBelle. Recently, she released a 20th anniversary edition of her New York Times best-selling cookbook, LaBelle Cuisine, featuring three new recipes.  

Additionally, LaBelle has been featured in popular films and television programs including A Soldier’s Story, A Different World, American Horror Story, Empire, Star, and The Kominsky Method, and starred in her own TV series, Out All Night. She has also appeared on Dancing with the Stars and The Masked Singer, and starred in Broadway productions of Your Arms Too Short to Box with God, Fela, and After Midnight. 

The State Theatre is at 15 Livingston Avenue in New Brunswick. Visit STNJ.org for tickets and more information. 

“STORMY SKIES OVER APPLE TREES”: This work by Joelle Hofbauer was awarded Best In Show at the “In Celebration of Old Trees” art show, on view November 19 through December 11 at Terhune Orchards. An opening reception is on Saturday, November 19 from 1-3 p.m.

The “In Celebration of Old Trees” art show will be on view in Terhune Orchards’ 200-year-old barn from November 19 through December 11. In the exhibit, 34 paintings and photographs by noted artists tell the story of Terhune’s century-old apple trees. Michael Madigan, well-known local artist, judged the entries. Joelle Hofbauer received Best in Show for her work Stormy Skies Over Apple Trees. She and all the artists will be honored at a reception on Saturday, November 19 from 1-3 p.m.

Some of the artists will be available to discuss their work with the public at the reception. Select pieces will be for sale. No admission fee is required.

Visitors are invited to stay for a tour of the old apple tree orchard led by Pam and Gary Mount. Gary Mount will give a short reading from his book, A Farmer’s Life, featuring the chapter “Joy of Planting Trees.”

The exhibit will be on view on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 to 5 p.m. through December 11.

Terhune Orchards is located at 330 Cold Soil Road. For more information, call (609) 923-2310 or visit terhunerochards.com.

ARTIST TALKS SERIES: Member artist Pamela Somer-Pagan will open the new series at Princeton Makes in the Princeton Shopping Center on November 17 at 7 p.m. Somer-Pagan, a resin artist, will share insights into her practice, techniques, and process, in addition to demonstrating how she creates her pieces.

On Thursday, November 17, at 7 p.m., artist Pamela Somer-Pagan will open the new Artist Talks series at Princeton Makes in the Princeton Shopping Center. Princeton Makes member Somer-Pagan, a resin artist known for abstract works, will share insights into her practice, techniques, and process, in addition to demonstrating how she creates her pieces.

The Princeton Makes Artist Talks series, part of the cooperative’s new programming initiatives, will provide the public a monthly opportunity, every third Thursday, to learn about and from its creatives.

Somer-Pagan’s creative focus is abstract resin art. She likes her abstractions to bring joy, often through geometric shapes. “My training and background are in fashion design, and as a result I bring shapes, color, and line to all of my artwork,” said Somer-Pagan. “These things inspire me and make me happy. I like my art to be modern, bright, and clean to inspire happiness. I am drawn to simple and clean, but never basic.”

She was educated in fashion and design at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning; the Fashion Institute of Technology; and Parsons School of Design. Her work can be found in homes from the New York/New Jersey area, Florida, the Midwest, Canada, and Israel, to name a few. more

“LIBERATED AMERICAN WOMAN OF THE 1970S”: This 1997 work is featured in “Samuel Fosso: Affirmative Acts,” on view November 19 through January 29 at the Princeton University Art Museum’s Art on Hulfish gallery in Palmer Square.

Beginning November 19, the Princeton University Art Museum will present “Samuel Fosso: Affirmative Acts,” the first major U.S. survey of one of the most renowned contemporary artists based in Africa today. The exhibition — curated by Princeton University Professor Chika Okeke-Agulu with Silma Berrada, Lawrence Chamunorwa, Maia Julis, and Iheanyi Onwuegbucha — will be on view at Art on Hulfish in downtown Princeton through January 29 and will offer U.S. audiences an introduction to one of the best-known photographers from the African continent on the international scene.

Fosso’s intimate self-portraits, which he began shooting when he was about 13, explore identity, social history, and the impact of colonialism on the African continent. The earliest work in the exhibition, which includes more than 20 pictures drawn mostly from The Walther Collection, was shot in 1975, when the young Fosso opened his first studio in the Central African Republic. After spending each day taking pictures of clients, Fosso used leftover film to take self-confident photos of himself to send to his grandmother in Nigeria.

In 1997 Fosso, by then an established artist, earned a commission from the French retailer Tati for 12 self-portraits wearing the styles of the day. The images — the first Fosso took in color — depict the artist as a golfer, a lifeguard, and a bourgeois woman, among other personalities, suggesting the flexibility of identity, social class, and gender. The series earned him the moniker “the man with a thousand faces.” Just over a decade later, Fosso broadened his interest in identity with his series African Spirits (2008), wherein he dressed himself up as 14 icons of Black liberation (including Martin Luther King Jr., Angela Davis, Muhammad Ali, and Malcolm X) to celebrate and pay homage to their transformative political work. Works from both series, drawn from The Walther Collection, will be on view. more

“BEST FRIENDS”: Acrylic and watercolor paintings by Princeton artist David Meadow are on view at The Present Day Club on Stockton Street through December 16.

The Present Day Club now presents local artist David Meadow in a one-man exhibition featuring more than 55 acrylic and watercolor paintings.

Meadow, whose work has been accepted by many juried shows including those at Phillips’ Mill, Ellarslie, and Artists of Yardley, is considered one of the area’s up-and-coming artists. His art spans realism to Impressionism, employing light and color to draw the viewer into the setting. 

“I want my art to be accessible and pleasing to view, while conveying some aspect of the human condition,” said Meadow. “As a lifelong resident of the area, the settings are often based on scenes I know well in New York, Philadelphia, and closer to home in New Hope, Lambertville, and the Sourland Mountains. I was excited to be able to show many of my works in one setting when The Present Day Club opportunity was presented to me.” 

The show is on view through December 16 at The Present Day Club, 72 Stockton Street. Call (609) 924-1014 for gallery hours. 

To see his artwork online, visit davidmeadow.com.

“CAROUSEL”: Jim Irvine’s mixed media work is featured in “Intersection: Four Voices in Abstraction,” on exhibit through January 27 at The Gallery at Berkshire Hathaway Fox & Roach. An artists’ reception will be held on December 4 from 2-5 p.m.

“Intersection: Four Voices in Abstraction,” on view through January 27 at The Gallery at Berkshire Hathaway Fox & Roach, features the work of Hunterdon Art Museum member artists Terri Fraser, Jim Irvine, Florence Moonan, and Catherine Suttle. Each has a history of receiving awards, selection for multiple exhibitions, and being acquired for private collections.

Curator David Lawson said, “With this group of four very distinct voices, I wanted to not only explore the more tangible intersection of their vocabulary through materials and technique, but also the broader context of how we all commune at the crossroads of our collective, creative unconscious as audience, critic, curator, and creator. I believe that in that space there is a shared conversation that connects, engages, and elevates us. I do hope you’ll enjoy the collection from this viewpoint and find your own ways of connecting the myriad elements at play.”

Fraser shares stories through visual art. She loves the interrelationship between nature and humanity, and is forever looking for new ways to reveal their influences on each other. “When I create, I feel my way through the tensions and interactions of the natural and human worlds colliding, overlapping, expanding, projecting — ultimately giving voice to a myriad of vibrating networks,” she said. Each work has its own story, like each human. Acknowledging this and allowing each to be heard is her way of unveiling connections between them, and between them and herself. more

November 9, 2022

By Stuart Mitchner

His poetry is about the difficulty of conceiving anything.
—Richard Poirier (1925-2009)

I’ve just revisited my favorite page in Valerie Eliot’s edition of her late husband T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound (Faber and Faber 1972). I don’t mean my favorite passage. I mean the first page of the facsimile that shows Pound’s first “annotation” in the form of a bold line striking straight through the heart of the typescript. That slashing of Eliot’s original is the essence of revision writ large. It’s also amusing to imagine how differently we’d have approached The Waste Land had Eliot stayed with the title He Do The Police In Different Voices, or had the two opening lines remained “First we had a couple of feelers down at Tom’s place, / There was old Tom, boiled to the eyes, blind.”

Eliot would surely have figured out on his own the downside of beginning a difficult, fabulously allusive work of art by, in effect, putting the reader on a first-name basis with the poet, old Tom Eliot. Instead of “April is the cruellest month,” we’re walking into a swirl of voices with the poet’s blind-drunk namesake leading the way. You can almost hear Ezra telling Tom it’s an opening that would make the hip readers of the day think the voices he was “doing” had already been “done” by Joyce in Ulysses. On top of that, there’s Tom’s pal Joe singing “I’m proud of all the Irish blood that’s in me,” which has been circled for special attention, with a note in the margin that could be read as a suggested replacement or a nudge from Ezra: “Tease, Squeeze lovin & wooin, Say Kid what’re y’ doing.”

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By Nancy Plum

The Brentano String Quartet, longtime friends of Princeton University Concerts, made a return visit to Princeton University last week with a concert paying homage to the American classical music tradition. A former ensemble-in-residence at Princeton, the Brentano Quartet commanded the stage at Richardson Auditorium last Thursday night with “Dvorák and the American Identity,” acknowledging the impact of Czech composer Antonin Dvorák on 20th-century American music and the legacy of this composer to this day. Violinists Mark Steinberg and Serena Canin, violist Misha Amory, and cellist Nina Lee created a program drawn from arrangements of American tunes as well as complex classical works rooted in the gospel and spiritual traditions.

The Brentano musicians began the concert with an arrangement for string quartet dating back almost 100 years. In the early decades of the 20th century, the Manhattan-based Flonzaley Quartet thrived for a mere 27 years, but despite the brevity of their existence, left a repertory of spiritual arrangements for string quartet possessing the same complexity as the rich works of the 19th century Romantic period. Arranged by Flonzaley second violinist Alfred Pochon, these pieces conveyed the same depth of emotion with four string players as the more familiar versions with words.

The Brentano String Quartet presented three Fonzaley arrangements Thursday night, beginning with a lush version of the spiritual “Deep River.” Accompanied by the lower strings, first violinist Steinberg presented the tune quietly, and as the tune was passed among the instruments, the players explored the more soulful characteristics of the music.

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“TWELFTH NIGHT”: Performances are underway for “Twelfth Night.” Directed by Solomon Bergquist, the play runs through November 13 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Above, from left, are Maria (Alex Gjaja), Feste (Ava Kronman), Olivia (Alexis Maze), and Viola, disguised as “Cesario” (Rilla McKeegan). (Photo by Kate Stewart)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

Twelfth Night reflects the “end of the Christmas season and was a time of revelry, in which the norms of society were inverted,” observes the play’s page on the Royal Shakespeare Company website. The work’s first noted performance took place in February 1602, on the feast of Candlemas.

Princeton University’s Theatre Intime is currently presenting Shakespeare’s comedy. The production’s first weekend coincided with another celebration, albeit a secular one. An alumni reunion (belatedly) celebrated the centennial of Theatre Intime (and the 50th anniversary of Princeton Summer Theater).

However, the script itself rarely feels festive; one could say that revelry is inverted. Countess Olivia, who mourns her brother, is determined not to consider suitors until seven years have passed. Meanwhile, her steward Malvolio is the victim of a cruel prank. By way of acknowledging the play’s gloomy undercurrent, Feste the Fool ends it by singing a song that reminds us that “the rain it raineth every day.”

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Gita Varadarajan will be reading from and talking about her book My Bindi (Scholastic Inc.), with illustrations by Archana Sreenivasan, in an event for adults and children on November 12 at 3 p.m. The hybrid program will be held at Labyrinth and online. For further information or to register, visit labyrinthbooks.com.

A starred review from Kirkus calls My Bindi “A novel treatment of a familiar situation delivered with fizz and aplomb.”

Varadarajan has taught and designed curriculums all over the world, including in a number of schools in Bangalore. She teaches second grade in Princeton and has also taught in the Princeton University Prison Teaching Initiative. With Sarah Weeks, she is the author of the novel Save Me a Seat. Sreenivasan is a freelance illustrator based in Bangalore, India. Her illustrations have been published in magazines, children’s books, book covers, and comics.

EXPLORING ROOTS: Multi-faceted musician Bruce Molsky, who specializes in the folk tradition, will be at Christ Congregation Church, 50 Walnut Lane, on Friday, November 18 at 8 p.m. (Photo by Michael O’Neal)

On Friday, November 18 at 8 p.m. the Princeton Folk Music Society presents an evening of fiddle, banjo, guitar, and song with Bruce Molsky at Christ Congregation Church, 50 Walnut Lane.

The Grammy-nominated artist is known for his authentic and personal interpretations of rarities from the Southern Appalachian songbook and other musical traditions from around the globe. His combination of technical virtuosity and relaxed conversational wit makes a concert hall feel like an intimate front porch gathering. He has collaborated with such players as Andy Irvine, Donal Lunny, Darol Anger, Tony Trischka, and Allison de Groot.

Molsky also serves the folk tradition by teaching at camps, festivals, and online. He is the visiting scholar in the American Roots Music Program at Berklee College of Music, where he is the go-to guy for the next generation of roots musicians.

Tickets are $5-$20. Visit Princetonfolk.org.

PERFORMING SOLO: Lindsay Buckingham, the musical visionary of Fleetwood Mac, has been a fixture in music for the last four decades. He will be at State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick on Saturday, November 12 at 8 p.m.

State Theatre New Jersey presents Lindsey Buckingham on Saturday, November 12 at 8 p.m.

Buckingham’s instinct for melody and his singular fingerpicking guitar style are showcased on the seven studio and three live albums he has released as a solo artist, beginning with 1981’s Law and Order and continuing through 2021’s Lindsey Buckingham, his first solo release since 2011’s Seeds We Sow.

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JAZZ AND MORE: Voices Chorale NJ, led by David A. McConnell, brings a varied program to Trinity Cathedral on December 16. (Photo by Mike Schwartz)

On Friday, December 16, at 7:30 p.m., Voices Chorale NJ (VCNJ) presents “Winterlight!” at Trinity Church, 33 Mercer Street. Artistic Director David A. McConnell conducts.

The program, which has a British focus, features selections from Ralph Vaughn Williams’ Folk Songs of the Four Seasons, plus works by jazz composer Will Todd: “Bring Light,” “A Boy was Born,” and three jazz carols. Todd will join VCNJ in concert.

Rounding out the program, diverse songs capturing the spirit and reflection of the winter holiday season, including, “We Are Where the Light Begins” with text by Jan Richardson.

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Ronald K. Brown
(Photo by Julieta Cervantes)

The Lewis Center for the Arts’ Program in Dance at Princeton University announces three artists as Caroline Hearst Choreographers-in-Residence for the 2022-2023 academic year: Ronald K. Brown and the team of Rashaun Mitchell and Silas Riener. All three artists were appointed as lecturers in dance and are teaching repertory works through fall dance courses that will be performed at the Princeton Dance Festival in December, while also developing new work with access to the Center’s studios and other resources.

Launched in 2017, the program provides selected professional choreographers with resources and a rich environment to develop their work and offers opportunities for students, faculty, and staff to engage with diverse creative practices. The artists share their work and processes with the Princeton community through workshops, conversations, residencies, open rehearsals, and performances.

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Westminster Conservatory of Music’s November 18 gala benefit concert in Hillman Hall, on the campus at 101 Walnut Lane, will include performances on violin, piano, guitar, recorder, and flute; a vocal quartet singing French Renaissance songs; and more. From left are Conservatory faculty members Patricia Landy and Kevin Willois; and student performers Averie Wu, Matthew Keng, Tegan Costello, Jeffrey Han, Alyssa Xu, Maya Borisov, Julianna Wong, and Frederick Chang (seated). The concert is at 7 p.m. Visit rider.edu/Westminster-conservatory for more information.

“SELF PORTRAIT”: Works by Walé Oyéjidé’ are featured in “Flight of the Dreamer,” on view at the Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., through April 23, 2023. The exhibit offers a social-justice-centered vision in response to the Michener’s history as a former prison.

The James A. Michener Art Museum in Doylestown, Pa., presents “Walé Oyéjidé: Flight of the Dreamer,” on view through April 23, 2023.

Pairing original writings published by previous Bucks County prison inmates with selections from renowned Nigerian American artist Walé Oyéjidé’s existing body of work, “Flight of the Dreamer” offers a social-justice-centered vision in response to the Michener’s history as a former prison.

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SAUCE FOR THE GOOSE: Screen-printed decor and apparel by Yardsale Press, ceramics by Black Lab Ceramics, and jewelry by BLK Confetti will be among the offerings at the Arts Council of Princeton’s Sauce for the Goose Outdoor Art Market on Saturday, November 12 in downtown Princeton.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) presents its Sauce for the Goose Outdoor Art Market on Saturday, November 12 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Downtown Princeton.

Now celebrating its 28th year, this one-day market is an established destination for unique, high-quality handmade gifts. Shop from more than 55 local and regional vendors working in home decor, ceramics, textiles, jewelry, wood, apparel, and more.

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“HARRIET’S GAZE IV”: This work is featured in “Misogyny Papers/Apology: Victor Davson,” on view through December 9 at The Center for Contemporary Art in Bedminster.

The Center for Contemporary Art (“The Center”) in Bedminster presents two new fall exhibitions on view through December 9.

“Beneath the Surface” is a juried exhibition of the Northeast Feltmakers Guild. The Northeast Feltmakers Guild was founded in March 2002 as a way of bringing together the many talented felt artists throughout the United States, primarily in the Northeast. The Guild’s goals are to promote felted fiber art, increase awareness of the feltmaking process, and offer a forum for feltmakers where information can be shared regarding techniques, material resources, critiques, and marketing. The jurors for “Beneath the Surface,” Wes Sherman and Patricia Spark, selected 54 works representing the work of 36 artists.

Exhibiting artists include Sibel Adali, Leslie Alexander, Colette Ballew, LadyK Bennett, Marsha Biderman, Robin Blakney-Carlson, Josephine Dakers-Brathwaite, Judith Daniels, Linda Doucette, Lyn Falcone, Susan Getchell, Rae Gold, Carol Ingram, Kerstin Katko, Denise Kooperman, Helene Kusnitz, Cathy Lovell, Rachel Montroy, Charlotte Moore, Irina Moroz, Malgorzata Mosiek, Joy Muller-McCoola, Sara Pearsall, Debbie Penley, Stacey Piwinski, Etta Rosen, Barbara Ryan, Cathy Schalk, Tshen Shue, Ellen Silberlicht, Catherine Stebinger, Dayna Talbot, Linda Tomkow, Christine Vogensen, Nancy Winegard, and Miriam Young.

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“BOTANICAL FORM”: This glazed earthenware work by James Jansma is featured in “Two Craftsmen: Andrew Franz | Furniture + James Jansma | Ceramic Vessels,” on view through November 19 at Morpeth Contemporary in Hopewell. A Meet the Artists event is on November 12 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Morpeth Contemporary presents the work of two local craftsmen affiliated with both Princeton Day School and Princeton University. “Two Craftsmen: Andrew Franz | Furniture + James Jansma | Ceramic Vessels” is on view through November 19 at the gallery at 43 West Broad Street, Hopewell. A Meet the Artists event is on Saturday, November 12 from 1 to 3 p.m.

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“NOBORIGAMA KILN FIRING”: Of this panoramic work, Ricardo Barros said, “I photographed these artisans stoking their wood-fired kiln over two days. They were not all present at once. It rained in part of the picture, night fell, and the intensity of their focus was palpable throughout.” Barros’ 360-degree panoramas are featured in “An Entanglement of Time and Space,” on view at the Friend Center for Engineering Education at Princeton University through December 31.

Photographer Ricardo Barros’ 360-degree panoramas are the latest installment in Princeton University’s “Art of Science” exhibition program. Barros’ photographs challenge our expectations of story and stage. Rather than present discrete events separately, in sequence, and with a natural field of view, here we see everything … all at once. Hence this show’s title: “An Entanglement of Time and Space.”

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“A MYSTERY”: This painting by Jane Adriance is part of “Painting the Light,” her dual show with Debbie Pisacreta, on view November 10 through December 4 at Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. An opening reception is on November 12 from 4-7 p.m.

Artists Jane Adriance and Debbie Pisacreta will exhibit paintings in an art exhibition entitled “Painting the Light,” on view November 10 through December 4 at the Artists’ Gallery in Lambertville. An opening reception will be held on Saturday, November 12 from 4-7 p.m.

The exhibit explores the quality of light in both abstract and representational paintings. Adriance continues her journey to create juxtapositions of different visual observations with light and color.

“Light determines the color, composition, and the story being told,” said Adriance. “I have combined representative and abstract elements in the same context as well as pure abstractions in oils and mixed media. At times I think this becomes a sensual journey of mystery. Hopefully the observer will find a springboard to fantasy as well as aesthetic pleasure.”

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Two artists will be painting a live model in a “Dynamic Duo Demo” at Highlands Art Gallery, 41 North Union Street, Lambertville on November 12 from 5-8 p.m. during Lambertville’s Second Saturday event.

Master artist Kenn Erroll Backhaus has many years of painting experience. His artistic skill has been recognized by attaining a master status in the Oil Painters of America and the American Impressionist Society. Erroll is also a signature member of the California Art Club and a signature member and past president of Plein Air Painters of America (the oldest plein air organization in the country.) Erroll has given back to the artistic community by teaching workshops and online instruction. Because of his expertise in the field, he is often asked to judge and jury national and regional art shows.

Emerging artist May Zheng began attending the Art Academy of Hillsborough with illustrator and portrait artist Kevin Murphy at the age of 12. Zheng became an apprentice of Murphy’s and began intensive study with him in the oil medium when she was 16. Her first book cover was published by kOZMIC Press in September 2021, for The Mad King by Rebekay Mabry. Zheng was recently recognized by the Art Renewal Center as a finalist in the Imaginative Realism and Portraiture categories for professional artists in the ARC International Salon competition. The winners will be announced on January 2, 2023.

For more information, visit highlandsartgallery.com or email info@highlandsartgallery.com.

November 2, 2022

By Stuart Mitchner

For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabelle Lee

—Edgar Allan Poe

Like a heartbeat drives you mad
In the stillness of remembering what you had…

—Stevie Nicks, from “Dreams”

Asked in a publisher’s Q&A what inspired him to write Mirror in the Sky: The Life and Music of Stevie Nicks (University of California Press 2022), Princeton professor Simon Morrison, a scholar of Russian music and dance, says he got the idea about six years ago while talking with people who love her song “Dreams” — “just because they do, without needing or wanting to explain the love.” Morrison says that while he feels the same way, writing about the song and the singer “meant thinking about that love” rather than “leaving it be.” His plan was to write about Nicks by “exploring her creativity and immense power as a performer” while “focusing on her process, her sources of inspiration, and the bond she has created with her audience as a truth-teller.”

“Poe, Edgar Allan”

The Irish singer-songwriter Sinéad O’Connor briefly channels “Dreams” in her memoir Rememberings (2021), writing, “I’m like Stevie Nicks. She keeps her visions to herself.” After reading O’Connor’s response to the death of Elvis Presley in 1977 (she was 11: “I need a new father now that Elvis is gone”), I searched for Presley in the index to Mirror in the Sky, where I found “Poe, Edgar Allan” and discovered that when Nicks’s Senior English teacher at Menlo-Atherton High asked the class to analyze Poe’s “Annabel Lee,” Stevie turned the poem into a song that she, in Morrison’s words, “held close for decades,” finally recording it “once she had exorcised the demons of the past, the bad loves, the toxic habits.” Composed when Nicks was 17, “Annabelle Lee” rises gloriously from the undead almost half a century later in her solo album In Your Dreams (2011).

Having heard the wonders Nicks and producer Dave Stewart achieve in “Annabel Lee,” — Morrison quotes Stewart on “Stevie’s obsession” with Poe — I’d like to think that Vladimir Nabokov’s “Divine Edgar” would be entranced by Nicks’s rapturous singing and the majestic orchestration. Nabokov shares her obsession with Poe, having based the first incarnation of Lolita on “Annabelle Lee.” As someone who once claimed he was “as American as April in Arizona,” Nabokov would no doubt have been delighted to know that Nicks was born in Phoenix and that as a child paid frequent visits to a grandmother who lived in a town called Ajo. more