January 10, 2024

By ARTIST TALK AT D&R: Liz Cutler will be at D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center for an artist talk and dessert reception on Thursday, January 18 starting at 6:30 p.m.

The public is invited to an artist talk and dessert reception on Thursday, January 18 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at D&R Greenway Land Trust’s Johnson Education Center, One Preservation Place. In the event of inclement weather, the event will be rescheduled to Thursday, January 25.  Registration begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by artist Liz Cutler’s presentation at 7 p.m. 

Retired Princeton Day School teacher Cutler, who led the school’s sustainability club to inspire students to observe and care for nature, is showing her botanical art in memory of her son, Isaac. Together, they walked Greenway Meadows park throughout his lifetime. more

“LITTLE FOOT, BIG STEP”: This work by Rashmi George is featured in ‘Manifesting Beloved Community,” a juried exhibition presented by Art Against Racism and the West Windsor Arts Council, on view through March 2. An opening reception is on January 12 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Art Against Racism and West Windsor Arts Council present “Manifesting Beloved Community,”  the third year of a juried exhibition of work responding to a call for artists to visualize what it means to create or live in a nation or world designed around social and economic justice beyond the ills of structural racism. The exhibition is on view through March 2.

“The exhibition is Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s  advocacy for a  ‘Beloved Community,’ a global vision where all people share in the wealth of a healed planet,” said Rhinold Ponder, executive director of Art Against Racism. “With our partner the West Windsor Arts Council for this exhibition, we are so proud of going into our third year with such a diverse collection of artists and programming, such as the multicultural game night we’re planning, designed to build a beloved community.”  more

“CHARLOTTE”: This photograph is part of “Anthropomorphic: Photos and Stories” on view at Princeton Public Library through March 15. An art talk is on January 18 at 6:30 p.m.

Photographer Darren Sussman will be at Princeton Public Library on Thursday, January 18 at 6:30 p.m. for the opening reception for “Anthropomorphic: Photos and Stories,” an exhibit of his work on view in the second floor Reading Room.

The exhibit, featuring a selection of photographs and text from the book of the same name, is on view through March 15 and explores the human tendency to assign human emotions and characteristics to animals. 

“I can’t help it, when I look at an animal, I give it a human story,” said Sussman. “I’ve been doing it my whole life. So it was only natural, when I started into wildlife photography, that I’d make up stories for my subjects. That’s how ‘Anthropomorphic,’ the book and exhibit, was born.” more

“SERENITY”: This work by Sejal Ashar is part of “Earth Song Refrain: BIPOC Artists on the Climate and the Environment,” a group exhibition curated by Art Against Racism, on view through January 12 at the Princeton Public Library.

“Earth Song Refrain: BIPOC Artists on the Climate and the Environment,” a group exhibition curated by Art Against Racism now showing at the Princeton Public Library, will close on January 12.

The exhibition presents the perspectives of visual artists and poets of color on the climate crisis and environmental challenges threatening the Earth’s health. Inspired by Michael Jackson’s environmental anthem “Earth Song,” this group exhibition reflects a tradition of Black and Brown artists using art to address issues related to mankind’s behavior and relationship to the planet, including the consequences of global warming, environmental racism, and climate change.  more

“WEATHER CONSTRUCT”: The Arts Council of Princeton’s first Taplin Gallery show of 2024 is “Waiting to Detonate,” a mixed media exhibition featuring Andrew Chalfen, whose work is shown here, Katelyn Liepins, and Ida Ochoteco.

The Arts Council of Princeton (ACP) now presents “Waiting to Detonate,” a group exhibition by Andrew Chalfen, Katelyn Liepins, and Ida Ochoteco, on view in the Arts Council’s Taplin Gallery through February 3.

“Waiting to Detonate” features work in vibrant colors and shapes that, sometimes literally, burst off the canvas and onto the floor.

Chalfen’s mixed media pieces feature patterns that vibrate, bloom, cluster, and break apart in dazzling color. At times, they are constructivist, abstract, geometric, and even psychedelic. They may allude to aerial views, cartography, architectural renderings, musical notation, urban-like densities, and impenetrable data arrays.  more

January 3, 2024

JAMMIN’ IN LONDON: The Princeton High School (PHS) Studio Band recently returned from a trip to London, where it recorded an album at the Abbey Road Studios and presented three additional concerts. The group is currently preparing for performances at the Big Band Dance on January 12 and the 2024 Princeton Jazz Festival on January 26 and 27, both at PHS. (Photo courtesy of Joe Bongiovi)

By Donald Gilpin

There are no winter doldrums for the Princeton High School (PHS) Studio Band, which is back from its recording session at the Abbey Road Studios in London and is now preparing to host a Big Band Dance in the PHS cafeteria on January 12, then the two-day 2024 Princeton Jazz Festival on January 26-27 in the PHS Performing Arts Center.

The annual Festival, in its 17th year at PHS, is the largest educational jazz festival in New Jersey and will feature more than 700 student musicians. A middle school competition will take place on January 26, and a high school competition on January 27. Education clinics will be held for all festival participants, and there will be special sets both evenings starring guest artist and Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Randy Brecker and acclaimed tenor saxophonist Ava Rovatti performing with the PHS Studio Band. more

FLAMENCO FIRE: This summer, the dance studio at the Arts Council of Princeton will be named for Lisa Botalico, who has taught Spanish dance there for 25 years.

By Anne Levin

When Lisa Botalico moved from New York to Princeton with her family in 1998, she worried that her flourishing career as a flamenco dancer, teacher, and choreographer would suffer.

But it wasn’t long before the Arts Council of Princeton hired her to teach. Two levels of classes soon grew into eight. Botalico, whose students will perform as part of the Arts Council’s “Dia de Los Reyes Magos” (Three Kings Day) celebration on Saturday, January 6, is a mainstay of the nonprofit — so much so that starting in June, the organization’s dance studio will bear her name. more

By Stuart Mitchner

His tragedy was that when he attempted to enter the human race, there was no human race there. 

—William Faulkner on Holden Caulfield

“If you really want to hear about it,” the first thing you need to know is that J.D. Salinger was born in New York City on the first of January 1919, 105 years ago. The first and only time his creation Holden Caulfield appeared in the The New Yorker was on December 21, 1946, in “Slight Rebellion Off Madison,” a story that got bumped from the 1941 Christmas issue after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

The writer who crafted The Catcher in the Rye’s famous “all-that-David-Copperfield-kind-of-crap” opening sentence clearly had another character in mind in the story’s “Holden Morrisey Caulfield,” who wore his hat “with a cutting edge at the ‘V’ of the crown.” The character who came to life in his own voice in 1951 is the one who left “all the goddam foils” of the Pencey Prep fencing team on the subway the same morning he bought a hat “for a buck” in a sports store and wore it with the peak swung “way around to the back” because he “looked good in it that way.”

One of the few times the later Holden’s presence can be felt in “Slight Rebellion” is during a theatre intermission when someone calls the Lunts “absolute angels” and Holden thinks “Angels. For Chrissake. Angels.” You hear him again when he and his date Sally are talking about school and he says, “Boy, do I hate it!” and “hate” gets him going. He hates living in New York, the Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue busses “and getting out at the center doors” and “the Seventy-second Street movie, with those fake clouds on the ceiling.” You get another hint of the reading world’s Holden when he tries to talk Sally into running away from New York with him. more

IRISH MUSIC: Poor Man’s Gambit brings its distinctive sound, steeped in Irish culture, to Princeton on Friday, January 19. (Photo courtesy of Poor Man’s Gambit)

On Friday, January 19 at 8 p.m., the Princeton Folk Music Society presents Poor Man’s Gambit, a Philadelphia-based Irish music band, at Christ Congregation Church, 50 Walnut Lane. The multi-instrumentalist group comprises Deirdre Lockman (fiddle and vocals), Corey Purcell (button accordion, cittern, bodhran, vocals, and dance), and Federico Betti (guitar and fiddle).

Lockman and Purcell are steeped in the traditional Irish culture of the Philadelphia area. Both started as step dancers in childhood, and went on to dance competitively at national and international levels. In time, however, they found their true calling in Irish music. Lockman began competing in fiddle competitions, and Purcell started teaching himself Irish-style button accordion. He studied with all-Ireland button accordion champion John Whelan. His musical interests expanded to include other instruments and voice. more

EMOTIONAL JOURNEY: In Death’s Company presents a new production, “Half Moon,” January 5-7 at Kelsey Theatre on the West Windsor Campus of Mercer County Community College.

Written and directed by Kyle Hamilton and Lauren Fogarty, Half Moon is a new play being presented at Kelsey Theatre January 5-7. The play deals with the complexities of the human condition. The story delves deep into the lives of a family of six, each wrestling with their own unique, conflicting coping mechanisms.

As the plot unravels, secrets are revealed, forcing the characters to confront their hidden truths. The drama, which also includes humor, explores themes of love, loss, and the complexity of relationships.  more

“WING CHAIRS”: This digital print by Madelaine Shellaby is featured in “The Stuart 60th Anniversary Community Art Exhibit,” on view January 13 through March 8 at Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart. An opening reception is on Saturday, January 13 at 5:30 p.m.

Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart, the all-girls independent day school for preschool through grade 12, has announced that the winter gallery exhibition in Stuart’s Considine Gallery will celebrate Stuart’s 60th anniversary featuring artists within the Stuart community.

“This special anniversary exhibit represents the wonderful vision of the founders of Stuart and the creative legacy of the architect Jean Labatut in a historic space,” said Andres Duque, gallery director, Stuart art teacher, and featured artist. “With artwork in different formats (paintings, drawings, sculptures, and photography) that represent contemporary dialogues, we will continue to bring the spirit of love and art to all at Stuart.” more

December 27, 2023

By Stuart Mitchner

He has too much talent for his genius; it is a dreadful locomotive to which he is bound and can never be free from nor set at rest. You would persuade me that he is a genial creature, full of sweetness and amenities and superior to his talents, but I fear he is harnessed to them.

—Ralph Waldo Emerson on Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Charles Dickens published “A Christmas Tree” in the December 21, 1850 issue of his weekly journal Household Words. While there are references to “bright merriment, and song, and dance, and cheerfulness” that echo the spirit of A Christmas Carol (1843), the later, shorter work reveals a much darker vision of Christmas and childhood.

Just as Scrooge tries to dismiss the horror of Marley’s ghost as “a slight disorder of the stomach … an undigested bit of beef,” Dickens tells himself that the “prodigious nightmare” embodied by the Christmas tree may be “the result of indigestion, assisted by imagination …. I don’t know why it’s frightful — but I know it is. I can only make out that it is an immense array of shapeless things … slowly coming close to my eyes, and receding to an immeasurable distance. When it comes closest, it is worse.” The apparition reminds Dickens of “winter nights incredibly long; of being sent early to bed, as a punishment for some small offence, and waking in two hours, with a sensation of having been asleep two nights; of the laden hopelessness of morning ever dawning….” more

EAGLEMANIA: Fans of The Eagles can relive the glory days of the band at the State Theatre New Jersey in New Brunswick on January 12.

State Theatre New Jersey presents EagleMania — The World’s Greatest Eagles Tribute Band on Friday, January 12 at 8 p.m. Tickets range from $25-$49.

EagleMania has been reproducing the music of The Eagles for over a decade. The tribute band’s five-part harmony, virtuoso guitar work, and ability to emulate the distinct sound of The Eagles has made them a favorite of audiences. The concert features Eagles’ greatest hits such as “Take It to the Limit,” “Witchy Woman,” “Already Gone,” and “Desperado,” as well as select Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Joe Walsh solo efforts.  more

Britton-René Collins
(Photo by James Hardy)

Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts has announced the selection of five Mary Mackall Gwinn Hodder Fellows for the 2024-2025 academic year. They include percussionist Britton- René Collins, visual artist Abigail DeVille, theater artist Ayesha Jordan, writer Suji Kwock Kim, and choreographer Nami Yamamoto.

Hodder Fellows may be writers, composers, choreographers, visual artists, performance artists, or other kinds of artists or humanists who demonstrate “much more than ordinary intellectual and literary gifts,” as the program outlines. Past participants have included novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, painter Mario Moore, poet Natalie Diaz, and playwrights Lauren Yee and Martyna Majok.

Abigail DeVille
(Photo by John Edmonds)

“We are so excited to welcome this impressive group of Hodder fellows to our LCA community where they will explore a range of profound and compelling issues in their chosen mediums: living with and through colonization; the ruptures of emigration; complex relationships between stories and places, communities, and ecosystems; and art’s capacity to catalyze social change,” said Lewis Center Chair Judith Hamera. more

“DREAM GLITCH”: One of the many installations in “Night Forms,” the multi-sensory experience on view at Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton through April 7.

“Night Forms,” a site-specific multi-sensory experience, is on view at Grounds For Sculpture (GFS) in Hamilton through April 7. This third and final installment of GFS’s partnership with Klip Collective brings back 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.

“‘Night Forms’ was born out of a desire to build new audiences, engage our current audience, and promote GFS as a truly year-round destination,” said Gary Garrido Schneider, Executive Director of Grounds For Sculpture. “Over the last two years, we welcomed over 90,000 guests, of which over half were first-time GFS visitors. We are delighted that ‘Night Forms’ and our partnership with Klip Collective helped us broaden and deepen audience engagement and look forward to embarking on new opportunities, exhibitions, and creative partnerships.”  more

“NATURE’S DUET”: Abigail Johnson’s paintings “Forest,” left, and “Rain,” right, and Laura Beard’s “Fragile Balance 1,” top center, and “Serenity,” bottom center, are featured in their exhibition on view January 6 through February 28 at the Tulpehaking Nature Center in Hamilton.

The nonprofit Friends for the Abbott Marshlands (FFAM) have announced their 2024 opening exhibition by artists Abigail Johnson of Princeton and Laura Beard of Ewing. Their collaborative fine art show, entitled “Nature’s Duet,” combines the individual expressions of each artist — Johnson as an abstract painter and Beard as a realism painter — to express their appreciation and wonder in the natural world and its complex interactions. The paintings reflect the land, water, and animals of the greater central New Jersey area. The artists hope to draw attention to FFAM’s efforts to build awareness and support for the protection and stewardship of the Abbott Marshlands. more

According to the Arts Council of Princeton (ACP), the latest mural in its series on Spring Street, completed this fall, is “a vibrant portrayal of the delightful experiences that await us in Princeton as we come together with our friends and family. It reminds us that our community is here, around us, ready to be embraced and built upon.” It was designed by Jacqui Alexander and painted by Melissa Kuscin and Maria Evans of the ACP. (Photo by Charles R. Plohn)

December 20, 2023

By Stuart Mitchner

A glorious day, really! So clear, so crisp, so bracing! If only it weren’t Christmas!

—Henry Miller, from Nexus

Henry Valentine Miller’s antipathy to Christmas must have begun in the womb. Somehow the “literary gangster” who wrote Tropic of Cancer convinced his mother to put off delivering him for a day. Born December 26, 1891, in Yorkville on the Upper East side of Manhattan, he grew up in Brooklyn on what he called “the Street of Early Sorrows.”

Humphrey DeForest Bogart, who broke through in films as the gangster Duke Mantee, was born into a wealthy Upper West Side family on December 25, 1899, a birthdate that was subsequently moved into late January 1900 by the Warner’s publicity department. In the fantasy world of Hollywood, no way could an actor famed for playing “villainous” roles carry a Christmas Day birthdate.  more

By Nancy Plum

New Jersey Symphony returned to Richardson Auditorium this past weekend for the ensemble’s annual presentation of George Frideric Handel’s always-popular oratorio Messiah. Conducted by noted baroque specialist Nicholas McGegan, the spirited performance last Friday night brought together a stylistic chamber orchestra, youthful chorus, and four vocal soloists.

Messiah is comprised of nearly 50 choruses, recitatives, and solos or duets tracing the life of Christ in three distinct parts. McGegan, known for the speed and clarity of his baroque music performances, led the Symphony and Montclair State University Singers in all but a handful of the numbers in a concise 2½ hours of buoyant instrumental playing, clean choral singing, and lyrical vocal solos. His approach to the work, which he has conducted many times, emphasized the theatricality of the biblical story, as well as the charm and elegance of the 18th century.

As with most oratorios of its era, Messiah opened with an instrumental “Overture.” In Friday night’s performance, the musicians maintained crisp rhythms, with sharply-played double-dotted notes keeping the pace of the music moving forward. McGegan maintained a quick but unhurried tempo, with a lean orchestral fugue setting the stage for what was to come. more

TRUE STORY: In the musical “Come From Away,” passengers stranded in Newfoundland, Canada, because of the 9/11 attacks are embraced by the local community. (Photo by Matthew Murphy for Murphy Made)

State Theatre New Jersey presents the Broadway musical Come From Away on Friday, January 5 at 8 p.m.; Saturday, January 6 at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.; and Sunday, January 7 at 1 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. Tickets range from $90-$130.

Come From Away tells the true story of 7,000 stranded passengers on September 11, 2001, and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them. Cultures clashed and nerves ran high, but uneasiness turned into trust, music lasted into the night, and gratitude grew into enduring friendships.

The show won the Tony Award for Best Direction of a Musical (Christopher Ashley), four Olivier Awards (London) including Best New Musical, five Outer Critics Circle Awards including Outstanding New Broadway Musical, three Drama Desk Awards including Outstanding Musical, and numerous other honors.

The State Theatre New Jersey is at 15 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick. Visit Stnj.org for ticket information.

BASS SOLOIST: Ranaan Meyer will perform with the Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey on January 14. Meyer’s “Concerto for my Family,” his first, is on the program.

The Youth Orchestra of Central Jersey (YOCJ) will begin 2024 with the Winter Large Ensemble Concert on Sunday, January 14, starting at 3 p.m. at Kendall Hall, the College of New Jersey, Route 31, Ewing.

The concert features YOCJ’s Symphonic Orchestra with soloist Ranaan Meyer, who will perform his first concerto for double bass and orchestra entitled Concerto For My Family, an homage to the people who lifted him up along the way. more

Walter DeShields

Bristol Riverside Theatre (BRT) will present Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun January 30-February 18 at BRT, 120 Radcliffe Street in Bristol, Pa.

Named the Best Play of 1959 by the New York Drama Critics’ Circle, A Raisin in the Sun tells the story of the Younger family’s financial woes and struggles. The play was the first play written by a Black woman to be produced on Broadway under a Black director, Lloyd Richards. Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Louis Gossett Jr., and Claudia McNeil starred. The play was made into a film in 1961.

BRT’s production stars Walter DeShields, Patricia Floyd, Aasim Iqbal, Martine Fleurisma, Brittany Davis, Dayo Olatokun, and Brandon Pierce. Special pre- and-post-show engagements will be held, included with the ticket price. Among them is Black Theatre Night on February 16, which will offer a post-show conversation with director Lisa Strum, community leaders, and the cast.

Visit brtstage.org or call (215) 785-0100 for tickets.

“FLIGHT PLAN”: This collaborative work by the late Dick Snedeker and Trenton-based artist Leon Rainbow is being auctioned off through December 31 as a fundraiser for West Windsor Arts.

West Windsor Arts is auctioning off a special sculpture as a tribute to one of its founding members, Dick Snedeker, who passed away in 2020.

“As a small, local nonprofit, we rely on the support of our community to keep our programs going and our initiatives alive. We are now accepting bids on a collaborative work of art by Dick and renowned Trenton-based artist Leon Rainbow,” said Aylin Green, executive director of West Windsor Arts. The two shared a passion for arts advocacy and community service.

The sculpture, called Flight Plan, was originally created by Snedeker, a Princeton graduate and master woodworker who worked for more than 40 years at Aeronautical Research Associates of Princeton (ARAP) and wrote the popular “Looking Back” column for the West Windsor Plainsboro Community News. Snedeker also served on several local boards and participated in significant ways on a number of key community initiatives. more

“EMBRACED BY NATURE”: This work by Catherine J. Martzloff is featured in “The Tapestry of Color,” on view at the Present Day Club on Stockton Street January 5 through March 3.

The Present Day Club, located at 72 Stockton Street, will host “The Tapestry of Color” January 5 through March 3. This expansive exhibit of oil paintings by local artist Catherine J. Martzloff will feature a metaphorical tapestry where a symphony of vibrant and unique colors are symbolically woven together, creating a visual narrative that transcends time. Just as a tapestry consists of threads intricately intertwined to form a coherent design, these paintings convey a deeper connection and a profound sense of unity, celebrating the diverse threads of life and emotions. more

“COLOR, FORM, AND MEANING”: This oil painting by Elaina Phillips is part of new exhibition, on view at Gourgaud Gallery in Cranbury January 2 through January 24.

Gourgaud Gallery, located in Cranbury Town Hall, 23A North Main Street, Cranbury, presents works by Elaina Phillips in “Color, Form, and Meaning,” on view January 2 through January 24.

Phillips’ first show at Gourgaud highlighted her interest in line art and watercolors and photography. Her inspiration from that was to broaden her focus and explore new mediums. She carefully considered colors and perspectives, attempting to stimulate curiosity, questions, and emotion. This exhibit is a collection of enjoyable, experimental explorations, applying and sometimes combining cubist, abstract, and classical approaches in painting. more