• Make It Mine! Washington Theaters Update Classics for Today 

    Amy Henderson

    The current passion for reinventing ‘classics’ to fit today is replete with both good intentions and overbearing ego. The core idea of a ‘classic’ is that it has something significant to convey over time. Updating ideas of significance for contemporary audiences can work wonderfully, but there are also huge opportunities to create flops.

    The movie Little Women opened to popular and critical cheers this past Christmas. Director Greta Gerwig has explained that she loved the Louisa May Alcott classic as a child, but that it conveyed such new relevance when she re-read it in her 30s that she had to make it into a film. There have been earlier movie versions—notably the 1933 movie directed by George Cukor and starring Katharine Hepburn as Jo—but Gerwig thought a new movie could beautifully encapsulate the book’s core ideas intersecting women with ambition, art, and money.  Meryl Streep’s Auntie March gives an iron-fisted definition of how women in the 19th century had to marry unless they had their own economic independence—unless, as Auntie chortles, they were rich like she was.

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  • J. M. W. Turner: Watercolors from London’s Tate, at Mystic Seaport, CT

    Elaine A. King

    The exhibition J. M. W. Turner: Watercolors from Tate, presented at the Mystic Seaport Museum in partnership with Tate, London, offers the largest number of this master’s watercolors to be seen in the USA in decades and it is the only North American venue.  David Blayney Brown, the Tate’s Manton Senior Curator of British Art 1790-1850, curated this superb display that provides viewers with an extraordinary chance to see key watercolors spanning the entire career of this prominent artist.  The distinct assortment of 97 works were chosen from the legacy known as the “Turner Bequest,” comprised of more than 30,000 works on paper, 300 oil paintings, and 280 sketchbooks.  The vast collection was bequeathed to Great Britain after the artist’s death in 1851 (b. (1775).  According to Brown, “Here we see not the public Turner, whose large oil paintings hung prominently in the Royal Academy, but the private artist who continually tested compositions, color, and tactile effect.”

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  • Philanthropy Today: Murky Waters, Quirky Consequences, and the Joys of Public Art

    Amy Henderson

    Philanthropists may fancy themselves the Medici of today’s art world. Demanding or endearing, they control the money that shapes public access to contemporary art and culture. The Sackler family has earned the consequences of outraged headlines, with the Louvre the latest museum to scrub “Sackler” from its walls. Other major museums like the Met, the Guggenheim, and the Tate have stopped accepting Sackler money.

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  • How Many Tears Are Enough? An Installation by June Ahrens

    D. Dominick Lombardi

    June Ahrens’ installation How Many Tears Are Enough? is a contemplative work that slowly reveals its intricate symbolic, emotional content. It is comprised of various types of shape defining wires and ropes suspended from the ceiling, all hovering just above long sheets of highly reflective silver Mylar. While the main expression of three-dimensional lines dominates most of the space of the University of Connecticut’s Stamford Art Gallery, there is also a back wall covered with unadorned black, knotted rope that creates a waterfall-like backdrop. When seen together, these two works give gallery visitors a basis for establishing personal links that may be viewed by some, as a dramatic field of ascending souls.

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  • Heroes of the Fourth Turning; a Conservative Christian Fugue

    Edward Rubin

    Will Arbery’s latest play, Heroes of the Fourth Turning, having been extended two times by popular demand, is now running Off-Broadway through Sunday, November 17, at New York’s Playwrights Horizons.  With more religious, personal, and political exposition (read talk) than many a mind can absorb at one sitting, Heroes of the Fourth Turning is essentially a snapshot of the current divisive state of affairs in this country. It is a play that not only digs deep but demands one’s fullest attention. In short, this is not a play that one can sit back, relax, and let it gently waft over you.

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  • Harold Pinter’s ‘Betrayal,’ on Broadway: From the End to the Beginning

    Edward Rubin

    “I have often been asked how my plays come about. I cannot say. Nor can I ever sum up my plays, except to say that this is what happened. That is what they said. That is what they did.”~Harold Pinter, taken from his 2005 Nobel Prize Lecture

    When I first heard that Harold Pinter’s Betrayal was coming to Broadway I was thrilled. I was long craving for something above and beyond the usual Broadway fare: something challenging that would set my brain to thinking, and my heart to feeling.  On the other hand, having seen Betrayal a number of years ago and remembering virtually nothing about it, I was of the mind that this play, based on Pinter’s own seven-year extra-marital affair during the 1960s, and written in reverse chronological order, was a one-trick pony.

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  • Washington’s Folger Theatre with Henry IV, Part 1: The Art of Falstaff

    Amy Henderson

    The Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., has opened its 2019-20 season with a production of Henry IV, Part 1. The theater describes the play as a “layered coming-of-age tale of power, rebellion, honor, and redemption.” It’s actually much more worthwhile than this pro forma statement.

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  • Sculptor, Patrick Dougherty and ‘A Passing Fancy’ in Falmouth, MA

    Elaine A. King

    Patrick Dougherty is motivated to work with stick materials because of increased massive urbanization and the destruction of forests all over the United States.  Knowing that sticks have been a foundation for human survival across cultures and throughout time –being used for building shelters, ladders, and tools for hunting in addition to keeping warm and cooking—he finds them a universal material for his work.  Since the early 1980s Dougherty has been fabricating huge environmental installations that he calls Stickworks.  The majority of his large, quirky and temporary pieces take approximately three weeks to construct and each monumental sculpture is distinctly unique.  Prior to starting a work he takes time getting to know the milieu in which it will be created, oft visiting the place several times prior to its actual construction. The installation’s final shape results from Dougherty’s observations about the overall locale, the interaction of the volunteers in the community who help build the work, as well as the specificity of the site where it is erected.

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  • The Art of D. Dominick Lombardi: Deciphering the Unconscious

    D. Dominick Lombardi

    In the late fifties my parents purchased a 1956 edition of the American Peoples Encyclopedia. I vaguely remember their being stressed about affording the encyclopedias, since my family had just moved into a home my father built himself, and we didn’t have much money left over, even for furniture. Despite his trepidations over the purchase price, my father carefully measured and built a bookcase for the encyclopedias so they would be safely stored until their future use. One day, when I was about three or four years old, I pulled down one of the books, opened it, and saw an image of Picasso’s anti-war masterpiece, Guernica (1939).


    Whistling Bird, 1998, Wood, acrylic and plastic laundry soap bottle, 16.5 x 17 x 13.5 inches 

    At that time I had no idea what I was looking at, but when I saw the image, a painting that expressed the collateral damage of the Spanish Civil War in one Basque town as an abstracted event, I was mesmerized. Right then and there, I knew on some deep level that I was face to face with a most significant and meaningful picture, not only based on the feeling I got from it, but that it was found in one of those very important books that seemed to both disturb and enhance my family’s lives. Later, I must have visited that painting, then located at the Museum of Modern Art, at least twenty times before it was sent back to Spain in 1981. I cherished every moment I spent with that painting, as it taught me so much about the power of art. 

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  • New York Gallery, Elga Wimmer PCC, with: ‘Pink Dreams in a Land with No Name’

    Mary Hrbacek

    On view at Elga Wimmer PCC, the exhibition “Pink Dreams in a Land with No Name,” curated by Roya Khadjavi, presents nineteen visual art works comprised of twelve mixed media pieces and nine laser cut canvas collages, created by Iranian born artists Sara Madandar and Shahram Karimi, who both currently reside in the U.S.   The show explores the strategies the artists have conjured in order to come to terms with their experiences as immigrants living a demanding cross-cultural existence, intensified by the anti-immigration political climate in the U.S. and the social constraints inherent in Iran.  Through the creative process of confronting, sorting, and clarifying painful memories and impulses, elucidating notions of place, nation, gender and self, the artists forge the essence of their inner identities and current personas, in works that speak to the feelings and difficulties of displaced people worldwide.

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