March 20, 2024

By Stuart Mitchner

…the forgotten book, in the forgotten bookshop, screams to be discovered.

—from The Unquiet Grave

Today is Ovid’s birthday. In the unlikely event that my math is right, he would be 2067 years old. His full name was Publius Ovidius Naso, born March 20, 43 BC, and banished from Rome by the emperor Augustus in AD 8, presumably for writing (and apparently living) The Art of Love (Ars Amatoria). I found a passage in Book 3 that relates to my subject if you tweak the words “path, bark, port, banquet” to fit this “undisguised” Preview Day column on the 2024 Bryn Mawr-Wellesley Book Sale:

“But let us return to our path; I must deal with my subject undisguised, that my wearied bark may reach its port. You may be waiting, in fact, for me to escort you to the banquet, and may be requesting my advice in this respect as well. Come late, and enter when the lights are brought in; delay is a friend to passion; a very great stimulant is delay.”

I know from experience that book dealers and bibliophiles waiting outside previous preview sales have experienced the “stimulant of delay,” especially in the days when a low-numbered ticket to a place near the front of the line was worth getting up for at the proverbial crack of dawn, and believe me, “passion” is not too strong a word for the book lust surging through the line the moment the doors are opened.  more

By Nancy Plum

The period from the late-18th to mid-19th centuries saw the premature deaths of many highly-prolific composers. Mozart, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Bellini — none lived to see the age of 40, but each composed an astounding body of work which has endured to this day. Not the least in this ill-fated group is French composer Georges Bizet who, felled by a heart attack at the age of 36, was never able to enjoy the success of his immensely popular 1875 opera Carmen. Denounced as immoral at its premiere, Carmen has long since risen above scandal to become one of the most widely-performed operas in the repertory.   more

OLD AND NEW: Emily Cordies-Maso is among the dancers to appear in “Of Swans and Variants” at McCarter Theatre on April 4. (Photo by Harald Schrader)

American Repertory Ballet (ARB) will be on stage at McCarter Theatre on Thursday, April 4 at 7 p.m. with “Of Swans and Variants,” a program of classical and contemporary works.

The evening’s double bill features an excerpt from the classic Swan Lake, as well as VARIANTS, choreographed by Artistic Director Ethan Stiefel.

ARB recently performed to sold-out audiences with the premiere of “Classic Beauty” featuring Swan Lake Act II at the New Brunswick Performing Arts Center. The iconic second act of the full-length ballet, to music by Tchaikovsky, tells the tale of Odette, the swan princess, as she reveals her true form to Prince Siegfried.  more

“LUNA MOTH”: This photo by Sydney Vine was an entry in Friends of Princeton Open Space’s 2023 photo contest. Entries for this year’s contest, Perspectives on Preservation, must be submitted by September 8.

Friends of Princeton Open Space (FOPOS), a nonprofit devoted to land preservation and stewardship in Princeton, has announced its 2024 photo contest, Perspectives on Preservation, sponsored by REI Co-op Princeton.

Now in its ninth year, the annual contest originally coincided with REI’s Opt Outside campaign, which encourages people to skip the mall on the day after Thanksgiving and spend the day outdoors instead. Now accepting photos taken in any season, the Perspectives on Preservation photo contest continues to be sponsored by REI Co-op Princeton and encourages photographers to explore the Mountain Lakes Open Space Area all year round.  more

MULTI-SENSORY EXPERIENCE: “Night Forms,” the third and final installment of Grounds For Sculpture’s partnership with Klip Collective, closes on April 7.

“Night Forms,” a site-specific multi-sensory experience on view at Grounds For Sculpture (GFS) in Hamilton since November 2023, will close soon on April 7. This third and final installment of GFS’ partnership with Klip Collective has more than a dozen installations from the second season’s “Infinite Wave” along with a reprise of Froghead Rainbow, one of the most popular works from Klip’s inaugural project at GFS, “dreamloop.” The exhibition is designed to engage with Grounds For Sculpture’s art and horticulture collections and invites visitors to explore the grounds after dark.  more

“ABOVE THE ROOFTOPS”: This oil on canvas painting by Francisco Silva is part of “This Looks Familiar,” his solo exhibit on view at the David Scott Gallery at Berkshire Hathaway on Nassau Street through May 19. An artist reception is on March 23 from 2 to 5 p.m.

David Scott Gallery now presents “This Looks Familiar,” Francisco Silva’s first solo exhibition of paintings, on view through May 19 in the offices of Berkshire Hathaway, 253 Nassau Street. An artist reception is on Saturday, March 23 from 2 to 5 p.m.

After many years working as a graphic designer and web developer, 2019 marked Silva’s return to painting, primarily en plein air. He began with landscapes inspired by his backpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail. Since then, his work has grown to include still lifes, urban and rural scenes, architecture and structures, and themes portraying the struggles of the everyday person. Silva’s influences include Edward Hopper and the social realist painters of the 1920s and 1930s. The rich textiles of his Peruvian roots inform his use of vibrant color, and his brushwork is a seamless combination of loose, painterly strokes and controlled detail.  more

VISUAL STORYTELLER: James Baldwin introduces his new book, “Evidence of Things Not Seen,” at the home of Lerone Bennett in Chicago 1983. “Michelle V. Agins: Storyteller” is on view through December 8 at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers – New Brunswick. (Photo by Michelle V. Agins)

Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Michelle V. Agins, whose images tell stories about life in America, was the second Black woman ever hired as a staff photographer at the New York Times. She built her career at a time when photo editors gave very few assignments to women — much less to women of color.

The Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers — New Brunswick now presents “Michelle V. Agins: Storyteller.” On view through December 8, the exhibit features 66 photographs taken during her 35 years at the Times. Her groundbreaking assignments offer important documentation of race relations, celebrity culture, sports, spirituality, and economic disparity in America. Agins visits the museum for an artist talk and reception on April 21. Visit go.rutgers.edu/artisttalk0421 for details. more

March 13, 2024

By Stuart Mitchner

I was looking forward to a walk on the grounds of the Institute for Advanced Study, my destination the pond in the final scene of  Christopher Nolan’s multiple-Oscar-winning film. With the weather report predicting rain, I wanted to be there when the first drops were falling, as in the three-hour-long film’s beginning and end. I was hoping for a quietly eloquent spring rain, just enough to create the desired ripple effect, but before I could get there, it began pouring and I had to make do with a photo on the Institute’s website. Taken during the April 2022 filming, it shows Tom Conti’s Einstein in conversation with Cillian Murphy’s Oppenheimer while the burly, grey-maned, grey-bearded Dutch cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema hunkers down on a four-wheeled rig squinting at them through the Panavision lens.

“It was constantly close-ups, close-ups, close-ups, talking, talking, talking,” Van Hoytema says in a February 2024 screendaily.com interview. Referring to the sequence by the pond: “Towards the end of the scene, we creep in on Oppenheimer, and get the feeling that we crawl right through Cillian’s eyes into his head, and start understanding the world, how he sees it now. More importantly, we shoot a close-up of him that is more powerful than most of the other close-ups in the film, even though we have been on top of his face for the whole movie. So, the challenge was, ‘How the hell do we make that interesting?’”

The answer was delivered on Sunday night when the producers of Oppenheimer won the Academy Award for Best Picture, with Oscars going to Best Lead Actor Murphy, Best Supporting Actor Robert Downey Jr., and Best Director Nolan, as well as to Ludwig Göransson for his score, to Jennifer Lame for editing, and to Van Hoytema himself for cinematography. more

By Nancy Plum

Princeton Symphony Orchestra combined innovative performance with contemporary music this past weekend with a pair of collaborative performances with Time for Three, a groundbreaking ensemble crossing boundaries of classical, Americana, and singer-songwriter genres with virtuosic playing. Led by Princeton Symphony Orchestra Music Director Rossen Milanov, the two ensembles alone and together presented an evening of late 19th-century and early 20th-century ballet, as well as a newly-composed work written for Time for Three. The combined performance of these instrumentalists brought the audience to its feet with the dazzling playing of Time for Three double bassist Ranaan Meyer and violinists Nick Kendall and Charles Yang.  more

“DREAMGIRLS”: Performances are underway for “Dreamgirls.” Directed by Lili-Anne Brown, the musical runs through March 24 at McCarter’s Matthews Theatre. Above, from left, sporting glittery costumes, the Dreams — Effie (Trejah Bostic), Deena (Ta-Tynisa Wilson), and Lorrell (Keirsten Hodgens) — perform with a backup ensemble that wears the same outfits worn by the Dreams earlier in the show, before they achieve stardom. (Photo by Diane Sobolewski)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

The Motown-inspired musical Dreamgirls has succeeded both as a Broadway show (1981) directed by Michael Bennett, and as a film (2006). But as the dazzling, energetic production that is playing at McCarter demonstrates, this piece is at its best when it can be seen — and heard — on a live stage.

This revival is a collaboration between Goodspeed Musicals, which presented the show in East Haddam, Conn., in late 2023, and McCarter Theatre. Insightfully directed by five-time Jeff Award winner Lili-Anne Brown (assisted by Vaughn Ryan Midder), the production spotlights both the glamour of the music business and the pain caused by machinations that take place behind the scenes. more

SOUTHERN ROCK AND BLUES: Blackberry Smoke is joined by special guests in New Brunswick on March 23.

Blackberry Smoke: Be Right Here Tour is on stage at the State Theatre New Jersey, 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, on Saturday, March 23 at 8 p.m. Joining Blackberry Smoke for this concert are special guests Duane Betts & Palmetto Motel.

Blackberry Smoke, the Georgia-based band — vocalist/lead guitarist Charlie Starr, keyboardist Brandon Still, guitarist/vocalist Paul Jackson, bassist/vocalist Richard Turner and drummer Brit Turner — draw inspiration from Southern rock, blues-leaning classic rock and rootsy vintage country.  more

BELOVED BUT ANNOYING: In ActorsNET’s production of “Over the River and Through the Woods,” Nick’s grandparents will do anything to get him to stay in New Jersey, including overseeing the date that they’ve set him up for.

ActorsNET continues its 27th season with Over the River and Through the Woods by Joe DiPietro, a comedy set in New Jersey where an Italian immigrant family experiences deep familial love and the inevitable little heartbreaks that occur as time passes and children grow. The show runs through March 24 at the Heritage Center Theatre, 635 North Delmorr Avenue, Morrisville, Pa.

“The play addresses the challenges of balancing cultural traditions, family bonds, and the pursuit of personal dreams,” said Director David Deratzian. “With humor, warmth, and poignant moments, it beautifully captures the essence of familial love, cultural heritage, and the enduring strength of intergenerational connections.” more

“BLUE MEMORY”: This work by Richard Lennox is part of the “Members Art Show and Sale,” on view March 16-17 and March 23-24 from 12-4 p.m. at Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pa.

Members of the Phillips’ Mill Community Association invite the public to the “Members Art Show and Sale” on March 16-17 and March 23-24, from 12-4 p.m., at the historic Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pa.

This non-juried show is a salute to the visual arts creativity of Mill members and the founding members of Phillips’ Mill Community Association nearly a century ago. The exhibition will showcase a range of fine arts and crafts throughout both levels of the Mill, upstairs and down. The Mill’s membership is rich with artists well-known in the community who will be exhibiting work never before shown at the Mill, including paintings, works on paper, sculpture, ceramics, photography, textiles, and more. All works will be for sale and a portion of every sale will benefit the upkeep of the 18th-century former grist mill.  more

“EDITH, CHINCOTEAGUE, VIRGINIA, 1967”: This work is among those committed to the Princeton University Art Museum by world renowned photographer, fine artist, and Princeton University Professor Emeritus Emmet Gowin. (Gift of Alexander D. Stuart, Class of 1972, and Robin Stuart in memory of Peter C. Bunnell)

The Princeton University Art Museum recently announced that world renowned photographer, fine artist, and Princeton University Professor Emeritus Emmet Gowin has committed his archive to the museum. The Emmet Gowin Archive is the latest addition to the museum’s holdings of artist archives, already notably strong in the area of photography. Gowin’s archive joins those of notable photographers Clarence H. White, Ruth Bernhard, and Minor White.  more

“WANDERER COYOTE”: Nature and sports art by James Fiorentino with be featured along with works by Patrick McDonnell at a reception at D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center on Sunday, March 24 from 2 to 4 p.m.

The public is invited to a reception on Sunday, March 24 from 2 to 4 p.m. at D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center at One Preservation Place to meet and enjoy artwork by James Fiorentino, one of the most renowned watercolor artists in the country. Joining Fiorentino will be syndicated cartoon artist, author, and playwright Patrick McDonnell, who will share his inspiration for his popular comic strip “MUTTS.” There is no charge to attend, but reservations are required at info@drgreenway.org or (609) 924-4646.  more

March 6, 2024

By Stuart Mitchner

How can you laugh if you can’t cry?

—Ring Lardner (1885-1933)

Today is Ring Lardner’s birthday, spring training baseball is underway, and I’ve been reading You Know Me Al: A Busher’s Letters (Doran 1916), in which “living” and “having” are spelled “liveing” and “haveing,” and a series between two teams becomes a “serious.” After Lardner’s team, the White Sox, were branded the Black Sox for throwing the 1919 “World Serious,” he saw it as a betrayal, although five years passed before he said, “I have kind of lost interest in the old game, or rather it ain’t the old game that which I have lost interest in it, but it is the game which the magnates have fixed up to please the public with their usual good judgement.”

In her August 1, 1925 Saturday Review essay on “American Fiction,” Virginia Woolf surprised a great many readers, including no doubt Ring Lardner and his neighbor at the time F. Scott Fitzgerald, by observing that Lardner “writes the best prose that has come our way” and “often in a language which is not English. Mr. Lardner has talents of a remarkable order. With extraordinary ease and aptitude, with the quickest strokes, the surest touch, the sharpest insight, he lets Jack Keefe the baseball player cut out his own outline, fill in his own depths, until the figure of the foolish, boastful, innocent athlete lives before us. As he babbles out his mind on paper there rise up friends, sweethearts, the scenery, town, and country—all surround him and make him up in his completeness.”

As it happens, Woolf’s eloquent appraisal could be applied to another character who is allowed to “cut out his own outline, fill in his own depths” until he “lives before us” as he “babbles out his mind on paper,” with friends, girlfriends, enemies, a little sister named Phoebe, scenery (Central Park) and town (New York City) all surrounding him and making him up “in his completeness.”  more

By Nancy Plum

The annual Princeton University Orchestra Concerto Competition has always shown the depth of talent in the University student body. This year was no exception, with the Orchestra performing a showcase concert of the Competition winners this past weekend. Under the direction of PUO Conductor Michael Pratt, the Orchestra played three full and complex concerti featuring tuba, cello, and violin soloists. As a bonus, the ensemble presented a world premiere of a collaborative work with the University’s African Music Ensemble and the West African Dafra Kura Band.

The Concerto Competition winners were young this year, with three underclassmen displaying impressive technical dexterity in the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams, Robert Schumann, and Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky. Sophomore Wesley Sanders and the University Orchestra opened Friday night’s performance in Richardson Auditorium (the concert was repeated Saturday night) with Vaughan Williams’ Concerto for Bass Tuba. The first major concerto ever written for tuba and orchestra, the 1954 concerto packed within its three movements virtuosic requirements well illustrating the full capabilities of the instrument. more

DON’T BE SHY: The Arts Council of Princeton’s monthly Story & Verse Open Mic invites emerging and established artists to take a turn in the spotlight starting March 21 with “Open Theme Night.” These events are free and open to all.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) will continue its monthly Story & Verse Open Mic every third Thursday at their Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, 102 Witherspoon Street. The first in the series is March 21, “Open Theme Night.” The free events start at 7 p.m.

Since 2020, Story & Verse has provided a warm and welcoming spotlight for both emerging and established artists in the ACP’s Solley Theater.

“Story & Verse has really blossomed over the past few months”, said organizer and ACP Program/Marketing Manager Melissa Kuscin. “It’s diverse in every way possible, showing off the talent of every age group, every level of experience. In fact, we’ve been getting more beginners than ever, and we’re honored to host a space that makes everyone feel like it’s for them.” more

MULTIPLE PIANOS AND MORE: The Kyiv Virtuosi Symphony Orchestra brings a varied program to State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick on March 17.

State Theatre New Jersey presents the Kyiv Virtuosi Symphony Orchestra led by Chief Conductor Dmitry Yablonsky on Sunday, March 17 at 3 p.m. The program includes Myroslav Skoryk’s Melody; Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in G minor; Mendelsohn & Moscheles’ Fantasie Brilliante & Variations; Ignaz Moscheles’ Les Contrastes Grand Duo Op. 115; Berliner’s Jacob’s Dream Cello Concerto; and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 8 in F Major.

Soloists in the program include pianist Alon Kariv, Dmitry Yablonsky on cello, and the MultiPiano Ensemble.

Years of friendship and collaboration between a group of talented Ukrainian musicians, laureates of international competitions, and  world-famous conductor and cellist Dmitry Yablonsky has grown into the creation of Kyiv Virtuosi Symphony Orchestra.

During the orchestra’s first season, the orchestra performed more than 120 concerts in Ukraine, Israel, Azerbaijan, Spain, Switzerland, and other countries.
 more

Crystal Glenn

On Sunday, March 17 at 4 p.m. in Richardson Auditorium, Princeton Pro Musica (PPM) Chorus and Orchestra returns to Mozart’s Requiem, presented alongside a new companion work by Baltimore-based composer Jasmine Barnes, Portraits: Douglass & Tubman. This concert will also feature guest artists from the Glassbrook Vocal Ensemble, directed by Chaequan Anderson, performing a set of works by Vincente Lusitano, Margaret Bonds, and Nathaniel Dett, some of the most celebrated Black composers across the history of music.

It is well known that Mozart did not live to complete his Requiem. Though the version completed by Franz Süssmayer is more frequently performed, Princeton Pro Musica will present the edition by pianist and Mozart scholar Robert Levin. His alternate completion “observes the character, texture, voice leading, continuity, and structure of Mozart’s music. The traditional version has been retained insofar as it agrees with idiomatic Mozartean practice,” said PPM Artistic Director Ryan Brandau. more

MUSICAL MIX: Multi-faceted singer and guitarist Ruth Wyand is known for her guitar virtuosity, ranging from original songs to instrumental arrangements of Doc Watson, Jimi Hendrix, and many others.

The Princeton Folk Music Society presents singer and guitarist Ruth Wyand at Christ Congregation Church, 50 Walnut Lane, on Friday, March 15 at 8 p.m.

Being diversified is Wyand’s specialty. Demonstrating guitar virtuosity with powerful fingerpicking, bottleneck slide and a warm alto voice, she plays a mix of Americana, jazz, blues, folk, and country, with a portion of Piedmont picking and bluegrass clawhammer thrown in. Her songwriting is universal, using a melting pot of styles with lyrics that are sometimes witty, sometimes serious, but always human and genuine. Wyand presents a mix of originals as well as instrumental arrangements of classics ranging from Doc Watson, Etta Baker, Jimi Hendrix, and Leo Kottke to Thelonious Monk and Nina Simone.

Tickets are $10-$25 ($5 for children 11 and under). Visit princetonfolk.org.

“AIR SPACE”: Watercolor paintings by Barbara Kaiser will be featured in “Shifting Perspectives,” her dual show with ceramicist Elisabeth Quatrano, on view March 16 through April 13 at the Arts Council of Princeton.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) will present “Shifting Perspectives: Capturing Moments in Ceramics and Watercolor,” a dual exhibition by Barbara Kaiser and Elisabeth Quatrano, in its Taplin Gallery March 16 through April 13. A free gallery opening will be held on Saturday, March 16 from 3 to 5 p.m.

This collection of Kaiser’s watercolor paintings — created during a time touched by tragedy, uncertainty, and fear — explores remembrance, resilience, and hope. Through depictions of motion and upward-looking compositions and sharing the common threads of blue sky and flight, the works represent a shift from melancholy to brightness, possibility, and joy. The artist employs her signature use of bold color, thoughtful composition, and varied watercolor techniques throughout. more

“WILDEST DREAM”: Princeton artist Trudy Borenstein-Sugiura recently received a 2024 Finalists Award from the Mid-Atlantic and New Jersey State Council for the Arts for her work.

Longtime Princeton resident Trudy Borenstein-Sugiura has been awarded a 2024 Finalists Award from the Mid-Atlantic and New Jersey State Council for the Arts.

Borenstein-Sugiura’s collages explore issues of memory, time, cultural identity, ecological, and ideological concerns and are made entirely out of cut paper relating to the topic. Personal documents, brochures, textbooks, magazines and family photos are all worked into an image of a person, or, often, a bird.  more

“ON SENTRY DUTY”: This quilt by Deb Brockway is part of “Nature Captured in Fabric,” her solo exhibit on view through April 30 at the Tulpehaking Nature Center in Hamilton.

The nonprofit Friends for the Abbott Marshlands (FFAM) is hosting a new art quilt exhibit, “Nature Captured in Fabric,” at the Tulpehaking Nature Center in Hamilton through April 30. The solo exhibit features works by Deb Brockway, a volunteer and executive board member of Friends for the Abbott Marshlands. As stewardship chair, she is well known for her trail building skills, while her professional background is in education research and STEM education. more

ART AT NIGHT: Works by ceramicist Zohar Lavi-Hasson will be among those featured at an art party on Saturday, March 9 from 6 to 11:30 p.m. at the Princeton Makes Artist Cooperative in the Princeton Shopping Center.

Princeton Makes, a Princeton-based artist cooperative, will host Art at Night, an evening art making party, on Saturday, March 9 from 6:30 to 11 p.m. at its artist studios and art market in the Princeton Shopping Center.

The art party will feature creative activities for children and adults, open drawings of live models (dressed till 10 p.m., nude after 10 p.m.), artists working in their studio, refreshments, live music by Dharmasoul, and a raffle for artwork from Princeton Makes artists.  more