April 24, 2024

“CELL”: The Arts Council of Princeton will show mixed media works by Heather Cox as part of “Making Do,” a group show excavating the beauty of everyday objects. The exhibition will be on view April 27 through May 24, with a gallery opening on May 3 from 5 to 7 p.m.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) will show “Making Do,” an exhibition of mixed media work, in the Arts Council’s Taplin Gallery April 27 through May 24. A free gallery opening will be held on Friday, May 3 from 5 to 7 p.m. This group show features the work of Karla Carballar, Heather Cox, Shannon Curry Hartmann, Mollie Murphy, Rachel Perry, and Emna Zghal.

To “make do” is an idiom. Grammatically, it is a phrase. It means to work with what one has on hand or to persevere through difficult circumstances. Each artist in this show makes work that exemplifies this term. Some of the group has always worked in this way: gleaning the metaphor from the world, finding meaning in everyday objects, and excavating the strange beauty they perceive in the cast-offs in the street, field, and forage. Others found their way to this kind of work during the pandemic: forced into isolation, they questioned, examined, played with, and discovered new and fruitful ways of working. more

“GORILLA JABARI”: This image by Mathew Renk is part of a photography exhibit by the Cranbury digital Camera Club (CdCC), on view May 6 through May 31 at the Gourgaud Gallery in Cranbury. 

The Gourgaud Gallery will host a photography exhibit by the Cranbury digital Camera Club (CdCC) May 6 through May 31.

The show will feature original, framed photographs of various subjects and sizes taken by club members. Most photographs will be for sale at prices ranging from $75 to $350, with 20 percent of all sales benefiting the Cranbury Arts Council.  more

HUES AND HAPPINESS: The Hopewell Valley Arts Council’s Color Fun Run + Walk, which culminates with a group color toss, is on Saturday, May 4 from 3 to 4 p.m. at Woolsey Park in Hopewell Township. (Photo by Benoit Cortet)

The Hopewell Valley Arts Council has announced the return of the Color Fun Run + Walk on Saturday, May 4 from 3 to 4 p.m. at Woolsey Park at the new Hopewell Township bandshell. This event promises an explosion of color and joy, catering to everyone from avid runners to leisurely strollers, all in support of the arts in Hopewell Valley.

There will be non-stop entertainment, including a dynamic dance party with music and warm-up sessions led by Angela, the hula hoop virtuoso from Color Me Hoopy. Participants will experience waves of color as they navigate the course, becoming living art pieces. The event culminates with a group color toss, a celebration of hues and happiness.  more

Works by Spriha Gupta are featured in “2nd Life: Rediscovering Nature’s Canvas,” on view at Artworks Trenton, 19 Everett Alley, Trenton, through May 24. An Artist Talk is on April 27 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. For more about the artist, visit sprihagupta.com

April 17, 2024

By Stuart Mitchner

I was a wing in heaven blue … I was a vision in another eye …

—Patti Smith, from “Wing”

Midway through National Poetry Month, I found a poem Patti Smith sang for Haruki Murakami after presenting him with a literary prize in Berlin 10 years ago. The song ends “And if there’s one thing … Could do for you … You’d be a wing … In heaven blue.” In her memoir M Train (2015), Smith calls Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Knopf 1997) a “devastating” masterpiece that she immediately wanted to reread because she “did not wish to exit its atmosphere.” She was haunted by “the ghost of a phrase” that had to do with “the fate of a certain property” in the opening chapter.

Having just finished Murakami’s epic of wonders and horrors, I’ve also been haunted by the beginning, where the narrator, Toru Okada, is searching for his lost cat and ends up, in Smith’s words, “at an abandoned house on an overgrown lot with a paltry bird sculpture and an obsolescent well.” What particularly intrigued me was Okada’s reference to “the mechanical cry of a bird that sounded as if it were winding a spring. We called it the wind-up bird” although “we didn’t know what it was really called or what it looked like, but that didn’t bother the wind-up bird. Every day it would come to the stand of trees in our neighborhood and wind the spring of our quiet little world.” That last sentence winds the spring of the book.  more

WHODUNIT?: The murder mystery comedy “Clue” will be at State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick on April 27 and 28. (Photo by Evan Zimmerman for MurphyMade)

State Theatre New Jersey presents Clue, the murder mystery comedy, for four performances on Saturday, April 27 at 2 and 8 p.m. and Sunday, April 28 at 1 and 6:30 p.m. Tickets range from $40-$105. more

DRAMA ABOUT FRIENDSHIP: Tabla player Salar Nader, in foreground, stars in “The Kite Runner,” a play based on the novel by Khaled Hosseini, coming to the State Theatre New Jersey May 3 and 4.

State Theatre New Jersey presents The Kite Runner, a play with music based on Khaled Hosseini’s internationally best-selling novel for two performances on Friday and Saturday, May 3 and 4 at 8 p.m. Salar Nader, the renowned musician who starred in the Broadway production, will reprise his role as tabla player for the tour. Tickets range from $70-$105.

The play tells a tale of friendship spanning cultures and continents, following one man’s journey to confront his past and find redemption. Afghanistan is a divided country, and two childhood friends are about to be torn apart. It’s a beautiful afternoon in Kabul and the skies are full of the excitement and joy of a kite flying tournament. But neither of the boys can foresee the incident which will change their lives forever.  more

REX MANNING DAY: McCarter Theatre Center and the Princeton Garden Theatre presented a free community screening of the cult classic film “Empire Records” in preparation for the play of the same name, making its world premiere at McCarter in the fall. (Photo by Roy Matusek)

On April 8, Princeton celebrated the uniquely 90’s holiday known as Rex Manning Day, inspired by the cult-classic film Empire Records, at the Princeton Garden Theatre. The event was a collaboration with McCarter Theatre Center, which will present the world premiere of a play of the same name in the fall.

The special event celebrated the movie’s enduring legacy and community of fans it has forged. A free screening of the film, which chronicles a day in the life of a record store facing corporate takeover, was shown, followed by a post-show Q&A with Carol Heikkinen, the original film’s writer and now the visionary behind the book for the upcoming musical comedy adaptation, Empire Records.  more

Princeton Youth Ballet (PYB) will present The Secret Garden at 4 p.m. on May 11 and May 12 at the Princeton High School Performing Arts Center, 16 Walnut Lane. PYB’s full-length production, based on the book by Frances Hodgson Burnett, tells the story of a young girl’s journey through loss, renewal, and growth, and features choreography by Risa Kaplowitz, staging and additional choreography by Talin Kenar, and projection backdrops by David Haneman. Running time is approximately 95 minutes. This performance is appropriate for audience members ages 4 and older. Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 on the day of the performance, and are available princetonyouthballet.org

LOCAL MUSICIANS: Presenting a benefit concert on Saturday, April 20 at 2 p.m. at Princeton United Methodist Church are, from left, Julia Hanna, Paul Manulik, and Scott Collins. Not pictured, Steven Hanna.

Rarely played music will be featured at a benefit concert for Princeton United Methodist Church (PrincetonUMC) on Saturday, April 20 at 2 p.m., followed by a reception. All are welcome, and no tickets are required; a free-will offering will benefit the church. The musicians are Julia Hanna, piano; Scott Collins, clarinet; Steven Hanna, clarinet; and Paul Manulik, viola.

The concert will include works by Bach, Bolcom, Horovitz, and Zinzadse, closing with “The Meeting,” a technical tour-de-force for two clarinets by A. Ponchielli, a 19th century Italian composer. “It is rarely performed, and we are excited to share it with everyone,” said Collins. more

JOINING FORCES: Hopewell Tour Des Arts, marking its 17th anniversary, has partnered with the Hopewell Valley Arts Council as it prepares for its May fundraiser and fall event.

This year marks the 17th anniversary of Hopewell Tour Des Arts, the annual event that opens the doors of local artists’ studios and pop-up art spaces to the public. This curated tour showcases new and innovative work from talented artists in the Hopewell area and is free to the public. In conjunction with celebrating this milestone, the Tour announces a new partnership with the Hopewell Valley Arts Council and gears up for its May fundraiser.

Starting with Highland Design Farm’s transformation over 50 years ago from multi-floored chicken coops to vibrant artist studios, Hopewell Tour Des Arts was conceptualized by Sean Mannix, Beth Judge, and Ruth Morpeth 18 years ago. Their vision was to unify the artist community and foster a culture of creativity and engagement. more

“AT HOME”: This work by Karen Hodell is part of the annual “Visual Arts Student Exhibition,” on view at the Gallery at Mercer County Community College in West Windsor through May 6.

Creativity abounds at the Gallery at Mercer County Community College (MCCC) as art students showcase their talents during the annual “Visual Arts Student Exhibition” through May 6. The show is free and open to the public.

Encouraged to use their imagination and be their authentic selves when looking for inspiration for their work, 40-plus students submitted pieces including fine arts, ceramics, sculpture, photography, and drawing, resulting in a display of 73 unique works of art. Gallery Assistant Karolina Zbaski noted that the gallery staff designed the exhibit around the students’ submissions, hence letting their work speak for itself.  more

“PARADISE”: This work by Maria Dreyer is featured in the Phillips’ Mill Photo Committee’s “Not Your Run of the Mill Photo Show,” on view April 21-28 at the historic Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pa.

April began a twofold celebration of fine art photography at the historic Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pa., with the opening of the 31st annual Juried “Phillips’ Mill Photographic Exhibition.” The Mill Photo Committee’s “Not Your Run of the Mill Photo Show,” which opens on Sunday, April 21, marks the photo finish this month.

The “Not Your Run of the Mill Photo Show,” like the juried exhibit at the start of April, will fill both levels of the Mill, upstairs and down, with high-quality works of photographic art on the walls, as well as dozens of matted prints in the portfolio bins. In this second show, however, all artists are members of the volunteer Phillips’ Mill Photo Committee that is responsible for organizing both shows. more

“OUTLAWS OF THE REVOLUTION”: beginning May 4, the Mercer Museum in Doylestown, Pa., will present an exhibition about the Doan Gang that roamed Bucks County during the 1770s. It will be on view through December 31, 2026. (Photo Courtesy of Mercer Museum & Fonthill Castle)

The Doan Gang roamed Bucks County, Pa., in the 1770s, and were known for exploits that included stealing horses and selling them to the British, robbing the Bucks County treasury, and in general, disrupting the new governments of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland. Later romanticized, they were considered both villains and heroes. more

April 10, 2024

By Stuart Mitchner

Last Friday when news of the local earthquake hit, I was at the library checking out the Criterion DVD of Akira Kurosawa’s Stray Dogs (1949). At home I returned to Haruki Murakami’s The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (Vintage International 1997) to find my place bookmarked at page 217, just as Toru Okada, “Mr. Wind-up Bird,” was packing a knapsack “kept for earthquakes and other emergencies.” When the late-afternoon aftershock rumbled through the house, I was on page 245 just as Okada was experiencing “a strange reverberation.” Call it what you will, a minor coincidence or magical realism in action, these things happen when you’re reading Murakami, not to mention the name game connection wherein the hero of Stray Dog is a detective named Murakami and the older detective showing him the ropes is Sato, a name he shares with the yakuza hero of Tokyo Vice, the exciting new series I hope to write about in a future column. more

“FLIGHT OF A LEGLESS BIRD”: Performances are underway for “Flight of a Legless Bird.” Written by Ethan Luk, and directed by Luk in collaboration with retired Program in Theater faculty member R.N. Sandberg, the play runs through April 13 at McCarter’s Berlind Theatre. Above, from left: Disparate circumstances cause Robin (Wasif Sami) and Leslie (Luk) to meet, after which a unique, unexpected bond is formed. (Photo by James DeSalvo)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

In the film Days of Being Wild (1990), actor Leslie Cheung delivers this line: “I’ve heard that there’s a kind of bird without legs that can only fly and fly, and sleep in the wind when it is tired. The bird only lands once in its life … that’s when it dies.”

Flight of a Legless Bird is an exquisite, poignant play that portrays two queer artists who metaphorically, as Cheung’s dialogue says, “fly and fly.” Both are fleeing from circumstances in which they feel trapped. Certain events cause their “flight” paths to intersect, and they have a chance encounter that affects them in unexpected ways. more

CHAMBER CONCERT: The Puget Sound Piano Trio performs works by Haydn, Mendelssohn, and Del Aguila at Trinity Church on April 24 at Trinity Church. (Photo by Sy Bean)

On Wednesday, April 24 at 7:30 p.m., the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (PSO) presents PSO principal cellist Alistair MacRae, violinist Maria Sampen, and pianist Ronaldo Rolim of the Puget Sound Piano Trio at Trinity Church, 33 Mercer Street.

The trio is the ensemble-in-residence at University of Puget Sound School of Music in Tacoma, Wash. On the program are Joseph Haydn’s Piano Trio in E Major, Hob.XV/28; Miguel Del Aguila’s Barroqueada, Op.128; and Felix Mendelssohn’s Piano Trio No. 2 in C Minor, Op.66. more

SUMMER MUSIC: The Adventures of Matt Black is among the bands set to descend on Unionville Vineyards on July 13 for the annual Sourland Mountain Festival.

The 19th Annual Sourland Mountain Festival is on Saturday, July 13 from 3-8:30 p.m., rain or shine. Early bird pricing is now available.

Bands representing talent from the region will appear at Unionville Vineyards to celebrate the Sourland region. Proceeds benefit the Sourland Conservancy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting the history and ecology of Central Jersey’s Sourland Mountain region.  more

MUSICAL COMEDY HABIT: “Nunsense” is on stage at the Kelsey Theatre of Mercer County Community College April 19 through May 5.

Tainted food, nuns in freezers, and lots of laughs are in store when The MTM Players bring the musical comedy Nunsense to the Kelsey Theatre stage, April 19 to May 5, on Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) West Windsor Campus.

After a bad batch of vichyssoise accidentally kills off 52 of the Little Sisters of Hoboken by the convent cook, Sister Julia (Child of God), the survivors empty the coffers to bury the deceased, but run out of cash before the last few bodies can be laid to rest. With the remaining deceased nuns on ice in the kitchen freezer, they decide to stage a variety show to raise the extra funds they need. But — will their prayers be answered before the health department discovers their secret?  more

Gianna Reisen’s “Play Time” is among the works to be presented by the New York City Ballet at the last section of its 75th season, April 23-June 2, at the Koch Theatre in Lincoln Center. Other choreographers to be represented include Amy Hall Garner, Justin Peck, Alexei Ratmansky, Christopher Wheeldon, Pam Tanowitz, Kyle Abraham, Jerome Robbins, and the company’s founder George Balanchine. Visit nycb.org for tickets. (Photo by Erin Baiano)

“NATUREZA MORTA 1 (DEAD NATURE 1)”: This digital print is featured in “Denilson Baniwa: Under the Skin of History,” on view April 13 through September 1 at the Princeton University Art Museum’s Art@Bainbridge gallery on Nassau Street.

An exhibition of work by the Indigenous Brazilian artist Denilson Baniwa will open April 13 at the Princeton University Art Museum’s Art@Bainbridge gallery. “Denilson Baniwa: Under the Skin of History,” on view through September 1, features work that engages with themes of Indigenous rights, colonial history, and environmental destruction.  more

“BLUE MONDAY”: This photograph by Jennifer Gershon of New Hope, Pa., is one of a trio of works that won Best Body of Work at the 31st annual “Phillips’ Mill Photographic Exhibition.” The show is on view at Phillips’ Mill in New Hope, Pa., through April 19.

Phillips’ Mill Community Association recently hosted an artists’ reception and awards ceremony for the 31st annual “Phillips’ Mill Photographic Exhibition,” which is on view through April 19.

Showcasing 135 contemporary works across many genres, from portraiture to abstraction, the 2024 exhibition was selected by juror Thom Goertel, a fine art and documentary photographer who has worked everywhere, from the White House to Iceland to Kenya. In a Phillips’ Mill Art Talk, available on the Mill’s website, he described his approach to jurying: “I did an initial pass looking for what jumped out, what were the ‘wow’ images, and after that I went back through for specific thematic areas we needed to address”. more

April 3, 2024

By Stuart Mitchner

I’m looking for Marlon Brando on the covers of Susan L. Mizruchi’s Brando’s Smile (2014) and William J. Mann’s The Contender (2019). Filmgoers and biographers have a right to their own Brando. This filmgoer’s Brando, the Byronic avenger of One-Eyed Jacks (1961), has little in common with the self-consciously seductive, smugly smiling man on the cover of Brando’s Smile; put some period clothing on him and he could be the boy next door in Meet Me in St. Louis. And the face staring at me from The Contender is clearly the choice of a biographer looking for an image expressive of the pain and pathos of the line Brando’s been associated with ever since his “I coulda been a contender” moment in Elia Kazan’s On the Waterfront (1954). The main problem is that this painfully posed, well-groomed portrait taken by the celebrity photographer Philippe Halsman could, at first glance, be mistaken for that of some Brandoesque young actor of the day. more

“YAGA”: Performances are underway for “Yaga.” Directed by Kat McLaughlin, the play runs through April 7 at the Hamilton Murray Theater. Above, eager college student Henry Kalles (Tate Keuler) and the mysterious Anna (Kristen Tan) strike up a conversation, leading to dangerous events. (Photo by Lucy Shea)

By Donald H. Sanborn III

In an Encyclopedia of Legendary Creatures (1981), author Tom McGowen describes the “dreaded ogress Baba Yaga” as resembling a “frightfully ugly old woman” who had “stone teeth, and her food was people, especially children.” She lived in a hut “perched on four chicken legs” and “flew through the air after her prey in a large mortar, steered with a pestle.”

Noting the character’s basis in Slavic folklore, the website for World History Encyclopedia adds that she also is known “as guardian of the fountains of the waters of life and is sometimes seen as embodying female empowerment.”  more

STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE: The cast of the award-winning musical “Rent,” coming to Kelsey Theatre at Mercer County Community College April 5-14.

Mercer County Community College’s (MCCC) theater, dance, and entertainment technology are collaborating on the Broadway show Rent, April 5-14 at the Kelsey Theatre on the college’s West Windsor campus.

Based loosely on the Puccini opera La Boheme, Jonathan Larson’s Rent follows a year in the life of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York’s Lower East Side under the shadow of HIV/AIDS. The physical and emotional complications of the disease pervade the lives of Roger, Mimi, Tom, and Angel, while Maureen deals with her chronic infidelity through performance art, and her partner, Joanne, wonders if their relationship is worth the trouble. more