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Glenn's Report for February 2013

4 March 2013

 

Report for The Month of February 2013

 

©GLENN LONEY 2013

 

 

THIS-WAS-THE-MONTH-THAT-WAS…


In Mile-High-Denver, Pot Is Now Legal, but You can get High on Theatre as well!

 

The Paucity of Challenging-New-Productions, both On & Off-Broadway—in February, the Shortest-Month—encouraged Your Roving Arts-Reporter to fly out to Denver once again for the Annual-Colorado-New-Play-Summit.

 

Founded by Producing-Artistic-Director Kent Thompson, the Festival-Formula has been to present Four-or-Five-Play-Readings of New-Dramas, from which Two will be chosen for Full-Stage-Production the following February.

 

But even Drama-Critics who had come all the way from New York were forbidden to write anything about the Readings, as the Scripts are Still-in-Progress

 

That is really Unfortunate, for Three of the Five were Sure-Winners, even without Sets-&-Costumes to flesh-them-out

 

What is most amazing is that the Reading-Casts have only three-days to become familiar with their Scripts & their Characters.

 

Yet most of the Players seem already to be Inhabiting their Temporary-Roles!

 

Kent Thompson, his Dramaturg, Douglas Langworthy, & his Staff may have a tough-time choosing Only-Two out of the Reading-Lineup: The Vast In-Between, by Laura Eason, Black Odyssey, by Marcus Gardley, The Legend of Georgia McBride, by Matthew Lopez, The Most Deserving, by Catherine Trieschmann, & Just Like Us, a Commissioned-Adaptation by Karen Zacarias, of a book by Helen Thorpe, a Local-Journalist, whose Husband was once Mayor-of-Denver.

 

Fortunately, a number of Theatre-Producers from Regional-Theatres were on-hand, so at least three of the plays are sure to be Optioned for Future-Production.

 

Were I a Producer—instead of an Arts-Scribe—I would immediately-option The Legend of Georgia McBride, in which a Failed-Elvis-Impersonator becomes a Fabulous-Drag-Queen!

 

Wait for it at a Theatre near you!

 

Blind-Homer might not know what to make of his Odyssey, with his Epic retold in terms of Black-History

 

This one I’d also Option!

 

Shakespeare in the Shadow of the Rockies…

 

The evening before the New-Play-Summit gets underway, there’s always a new Shakespeare-Staging on-hand, so I fly out to Denver a day early to savor that.

 

Kent Thompson’s Denver staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream was one of the best I’ve ever seen, but this year, he ceded Directorial-Challenges to Scott Wentworth, who gave a Wonderfully-Historicist-Look to Romeo & Juliet.

 

On a Stage-Floor & Platforms of Bleached-Wood—with a Curtain dividing the Upstage from the Downstage in a haunting Mirror-EffectRenaissance-Veronese Jested, Dueled, Danced, & Died in Elegant-Elizabethan-Costumes.

 

Robert Davidson is credited with Choreography, but the Entire-Production seemed Choreographed, rather like a Ritualized-Renaissance-Masque.

 

The Costumes—by Christina Poddubiuk—may have been influenced by her Trip-to-Italy, to study Period-Costumes first-hand.

 

Of course, Juliet is only 14-years-old—in the Original-Script, now long-lost—but that has never prevented Aging-Stars from counterfeiting Innocence & Loveliness.

 

Fortunately for both Scott Wentworth & Denver-Audiences, he had a very bouncy Juliet in Lenne Klingaman.

 

But her Romeo seemed from a Different-Century & a very Old-Fashioned-Production.

 

He was Vocally-&-Visually Over-the-Top from his First-Appearance onstage. I had the impression that he was trying to recreate Edwin Booth in this Demanding-Role

 

Only at the close, when he has killed the County-Paris & discovered an apparently Dead-Juliet in the Capulet-Tomb, was his Passion muted & touching. Charles Pasternack can do subtle when he wants to do so, but he needed a Guiding-Hand, which his Director should have provided…

 

Fortunately, the ribald Nurse of Jeanne Paulsen & the thoughtful Friar Laurence of Sam Gregory were exemplary. As was the florid Queen-Mab-Showpiece of J. Todd Adams’ Mercutio.

 

Major-Productions are accompanied by InsideOUT, effectual Study-Guides for the dramas.

 

Denver’s estimable Sally Gass provided a variety of Cliff-Notes for Romeo & Juliet, including a short note on Humor in Romeo & Juliet.

 

I told her I thought Humor should be Self-Evident if the Actors were really doing-their-jobs. But I was perhaps forgetting that most Young-People now have an Attention-Span of Mere-Seconds

 

Nonetheless, Two-Young-Women—sitting next to me—were laughing heartily at the High-Jinx of the Nurse & Elizabethan-Wit-&-Humor that’s now at least Four-Hundred-Years-Old!

 

In her "Encapsulated-Biography” of the Author of the Plays commonly attributed to Wm. Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon, Sally Gass does admit that we know very little about Shakespeare before he came up to London.

 

We have only Six-Authentic-Signatures, but he could never spell his name the same way twice…

 

Could it be that Christopher Marlowe did not die in that Infamous-Tavern-Brawl in Deptford? That, instead, his Death was Faked & he was Spirited-Abroad, never to return to England?

 

Had he taken refuge in Padua & Verona, that might account for The Merchant of Venice, The Taming of the Shrew, Two Gentlemen of Verona, & the Veronese Romeo & Juliet

 

Also in the R&J Edition of InsideOUT is an Essay on Herbs: Then, Now, & Yet To Come, by Amanda L. Burns, of the Denver-Botanical-Gardens, the Brochures of which were available in the Denver-Theatre-Center-Lobby.

 

If you turned-up at the Gardens with Your-Ticket-Stub—according to InsideOUT—you would receive $1 off the Regular-Daytime-Admission!

 

From Denver-Sight-Readings into Fully-Staged-Productions: Grace & Ed

 

In addition to R&J, Local & Visiting-Critics are allowed to comment on the Two-Plays that were chosen from last February’s Readings.

 

This is Awkward, for I didn’t warm to Grace, or The Art of Climbing even as a Reading.

 

Somehow, I missed the Reading of Ed, Downloaded, possibly because I had to fly back to New York that Sunday-Afternoon…

 

As Grace, or The Art of Climbing features a Depressed-Young-Woman, who decides to try Mountain-Climbing to get out of her Funk, in the Reading, I wondered how the Denver-Theatre-Center-Company could stage this Odd-Drama?

 

A Fake-Climbing-Wall—especially in a Theatre-in-the-Round-Conformation—wouldn’t work…

 

Designer Dane Laffrey ingeniously solved the Problem by providing Thin-Steel-Beams—studded with Mini-Stone-Handholds—on Cables that can be raised or lowered to simulate the Illusion-of-Climbing.

 

Thus, everyone in the Audience could watch Emm’s progress in Learning-To-Climb & overcoming her Fears: Not just of falling

 

They do say: Write what you know. Playwright Lauren Feldman—if an Interview in the Program is to be believed—has done just that.

 

What’s more, her Entire-Cast has apparently mastered the Art-of-Climbing, even to clambering-up some Actual-Colorado-Mountains in nearby & aptly-named Boulder.

 

Mike Donahue staged the by-now Physically-Fit-Players, among whom John Hutton was notable as Emm’s Concerned-Father. Julie Jesneck was an Able-Emm.

 

My Problem with this Athletic-Drama was that I couldn’t quite understand why Emm had turned-her-back on Friends who loved & cared. But everyone on stage seemed committed to making the Play an Effective-Experience.

 

Don’t Mess with My Head! Re-Programming Ed’s Memories…

 

Ed, Downloaded was Commissioned—from Playwright Michael Mitnick—with the Idea of having Computer-Hardware-&-Software as a Major-Character.

 

This worked long ago in 2001: Who will ever forget Hal?

 

Unfortunately, the Multi-Complexities of the Software-Programs on-show—while possibly fascinating to People who do not yet have Cell-Phones, or who incessantly-play Video-Games—are Distractions, rather than Revelations.

 

Initially, I didn’t understand that Edward—who was giving a kind of Slide-Show or Power-Point-Presentation to some School-Students—was actually dying.

 

Nor—as he seemed a kind of Nerd or a Wuss—could I understand why Two-Women would be so-in-love with him.

 

One of them, named Selene—the Name being suggested by Greek-Mythology, or was it Roman?—seems to be some kind of Neuro-Scientist & Computer-Freak.

 

But she is suddenly thrust-aside, as Edward falls for a cute Marionette-Street-Artiste, who is actually named Ruby.

 

We see them thrashing-about in the Throes-of-Young-Love, later repeated in Endless-Videos.

 

After Edward had died & an Intermission, we returned to discover a Stage filled with Huge-Overhead-Computer-Monitors & Elegant-Pedestals filled with Rising-Bubbles in a Clear-Medium, below the Downloaded-Memories of varied Defunct-Brains.

 

Scenic-Designer James Kronzer must have been responsible for the Design of the Pedestals, which were even more impressive endlessly-reflected in Mirrors!

 

There were also some Cases with what I took to be Defunct-Dyson-Vacuum-Cleaners, but a Computer-Expert-Colleague told me that they were actually Computers!

 

As I do not even own a Cell-Phone, I seem to have no real Grounding in the Common-Experience of the Youth-of-Today, much less their Online-Passions

 

Selene—apparently desolate that Edward had deserted her for Ruby—is trying to Re-Program Edward’s Memories, so that what was down-loaded from his Dead–Brain will show him still infatuated with Selene, instead of with Ruby, even going so far as to replace Her-Selene-Image for that of Ruby, even when Ed & Ruby were tussling in the Bed-Sheets!

 

This required some Recondite-Code-Writing & Endless-Re-Runs of Ed-&-Ruby-Digitals.

 

It was like Déjà-Vu all over again & all over again & all over again.

 

A Program-Insert thanked some Forty-People & Organizations for helping-out with the Videos!

 

At one point, the Huge-Video-Monitors lit up with a Warning: FATAL ERROR

 

That could also have been a Metaphoric-Warning about trying to make Artificial-Intelligence a Major-Player on-stage.

 

This is something that can be better-suggested in what used to be called Film, which no longer exists as a Viable-Medium for Entertainment or Enlightenment, alas…

 

You want a play about Artificial-Intelligence? How about putting America’s House-of-Representatives on-stage?

 

Sam Buntrock staged Annie Powell, Grace Rex, & JD Taylor, when he was not being Up-Staged by all that Hardware & Software.

 

If you want to know what you missed by not being in Denver for the New-Play-Summit, why not check-out Video-Highlights on You-Tube & Photo-Highlights on Flickr?

 

There’s also Stuff on Facebook

 

 

PASSING-GLANCES AT SCENES-SEEN:

 

THE OUTSIDER-ART-FAIR-2013: Outlandish/Inlandish & Almost at The-Chelsea-Piers…

 

Art-Brut, Art-by-Untaught-Artists, Naïve-Art

 

Call it what you will, but the Bottom-Line is that the Creators of the wide-range of Visual-Inventions & Puzzlements at this Season’s Outsider-Art-Fair all had No-Academic-Training whatsoever.

 

Or so they say…

 

Some, like Martin Ramirez—who was confined to DeWitt-Hospital, near my home-town of Grass Valley—were Certifiably-Insane.

 

Among the most famed of these Madmen was Adolf Wölfli, who now even has a Foundation named for him.

 

Indeed, Daniel Baumann, Curator of the Adolf Wölfli Foundation, was even on-hand at the show for a Rooftop-Panel on A Bridge Between Art-Worlds.

In fact, Adolf Wölfli is a favorite of the Galerie-St.-Etienne, whose Doyenne, Jane Kallir, was also showing the Quintessential-American-Outsider, Grandma Moses, whom her father, Otto Kallir, effectually "discovered.”

 

No Outsider-Art-Show would be complete with out some watercolor-sheets from Henry Darger’s on-going Sagas of Victorious-Girls overcoming varied Challenges & Threats.

 

Some of the Artworks involve a Central-Conception, such as the many visions of Renaldo Kuhler, "Founder & Permanent-Resident” of Rocaterrania.

 

Kuhler’s Rocaterranian-World looks vaguely like a Soviet-Survival, including the Uniforms

 

On the Theory that One-Picture-Is-Worth-a-Thousand-Words, Your Roving Arts-Reporter would like to share a kind of Collage of the Photos he took of the More-Bizarre-Imaginative-Efforts

 

The Baltimore-based Grimaldis-Gallery was showing many Scenes of the Childhood-Memories of Giorgos Rigas of Small-Town-Life in Fokis in Central-Greece: Both charming & instructive: So that’s how Greek-Peasants used to Winnow-Corn!

 

Among the admirable Galleries with stalls down at Centre 548—on West-22nd-Street—were Cavin-Morris, Carl Hammer, Bourbon-Lally, Ames, Gilley’s, Dean Jensen, Laura Steward, Henry Boxer, & Vito Schnabel.

 

Also on-hand was the American Folk-Art Museum, which owns a Hoard of Henry Dargers.

 

It once inhabited a State-of-the-Art-Museum adjoining MoMA, but that’s now sadly shuttered-up.

 

Instead, its Holdings can now be viewed at Lincoln-Center, in the Mormon-Building.

 

On a clear day, that Golden-Statue of the Angel-Moroni—atop the LDS-Structure—could be viewed as a Latter-Day-Saints-Exemplar of 19th-Century-American-Folk-Art, discovered by The Prophet, Joseph Smith, in Upstate-New-York, at the Hill-Cumorah

 

 

Rolin Jones’ THE JAMMER  [*****]

 

Polish-Priest Learns Spanish, While His Orphan-Charge Becomes Roller-Derby-Charger.

           

Patch Darragh is Super-Charged as Jack Lovington, a timid Roman-Catholic-Orphan, who becomes a Star of the fixed Roller-Derby-World.

 

The Jammer often looks like a Cartoon—with Cartoonish-Characters, some of them actually cut out of Cardboard—but it is also an Hilarious-Caricature of the World of Roller-Derbies, Sports-Fans, & Hyped-Sports-Broadcasters, as well as the Changing-World of Roman-Catholic-Parishes in New York City.

 

In Bushwick, as in Chelsea, what were once Polish-Tinged-Masses are becoming Puerto-Rican: Our-Lady-of-Guadalupe is replacing the Old-Guard of Saintly-Patronage

 

[¿How do you say Saint Ladislaw or Saint Birgitte en-español?]

 

Jackson Gay has strenuously staged a Dynamic-Cast which has to play Multiple-Roles & speak Bad-Language as if it were their Mother-Tongue.

 

Although this Insanely-Funny-Show is now in the Atlantic-Theatre’s Sub-Basement-Space of the Google-Building, on West-Sixteenth-Street, it should soon be moved to a Major-Midtown-Venue!

 

Kudos to Wilson Chin for a wonderfully Cartoonish-Setting

 

 

At the Met-Museum: A Trio of Mini-Exhibitions & a Website-Enrichment…

 

After I fell on my Head—while Photographing the Golden-Gate-Bridge with a Trick-Lens—I almost lost the Power-of-Locomotion.

 

When I was finally released from the Hospital, my Primary-Care-Providing-Physician told me to walk Three-Miles every day.

 

As I live only Twelve-Blocks down Fifth-Avenue from the Met-Museum—actually, across from the Frick!—walking up Fifth to the Met isn’t enough to be Just-What-the-Doctor-Ordered.

 

Fortunately, on a recent Monday, the Met-Management made it possible to satisfy my Doctor’s-Prescription-for-Exercise.

 

Checking-in at the Press-Table, I was advised to ramble on down through the Greek-&-Roman-Antiquities to a Mezzanine-Gallery, where a bronze-figure of Sleeping-Eros was on-view.

 

This had recently been re-restored, but its exposure-to-view also offered the occasion to show other Classic-Representations of Eros as well.

 

Maybe it was because the Sculptor showed Eros asleep—instead of In-Action—that merely looking at the Cherubic-Little-Lad didn’t function as an Aphrodisiac

 

After that brief-brush with Sex-in-Antiquity, I straggeled back through the long Classic-Corridor into the Main-Lobby, where Red-Carpets were being laid for the Rich-Patrons who would arrive that very evening to Wine-&-Dine & possibly struggle up the Neo-Classic-Stairs to look at Eros asleep.

 

But I believe they would have got much more enjoyment from Birds in the Art of Japan, which was almost at the opposite-end of the Met, in the Sackler-Galleries, looking down on the Temple-of-Dendur.

 

Currently, almost everything on-view in the Japanese-Galleries contains an Image—or Multiple-Images—of a Bird or Birds: Scrolls, Screens, Ceramics, Bronzes, & even a Fabulous Bird-Burdened-Kimono!

 

Long before John James Audubon wondered how to get all of a Flamingo into one print, Japanese Scroll-Painters had already figured-out how to depict Long-Necked-Birds in Small-Spaces: Have them pecking about the ground, possibly hunting for Seeds or Worms

 

There were also modern Art-Works—some of them rather Un-Bird-Like—that were supposed to suggest Birds or Flight.

 

But why Curators chose to place centrally a kind of Reindeer—made of many Crystal-Globes, of various sizes—remains a Mystery.

 

The Sackler-Galleries are on the Second-Floor of the Uptown-Wing of the Met—which is currently fronted or affronted with the Mammoth-Construction-Works on the David H. Koch Fountains—so one has to take the Elevator down again to the Main-Floor, then proceed through that Great-Ecclesiastical-Hall, where the Christmas-Tree sits annually, to reach the Lehman-Wing.

 

Just inside this Wing, a Computer-Monitor was mounted so the Press could see a New-Feature of the Met-Museum-Website: You can now explore Great-Works-of-Art—with Curators explaining their Amazing-Qualities—in the Privacy-of-Your-Own-Home.

 

Or even, given the Wonders of the Internet, possibly on your Cell-Phone or iPad

 

The Day may not be Far-Off when you do not need to go to the Met—either the Met-Museum or the Met-Opera—at all. You will soon be able to look at Paintings & Bizarre-Productions on your Wrist-Watch!

 

The Sound may not be so good, but Paintings seldom sing.

 

Beyond the Monitor, however—with the Three-Miles almost covered, as per Doctor’s-Orders—was the Path of Nature, not even Three-Kilometers.

 

This showcases the Met-Gift of the Wheelock Whitney Collection, but the exhibition-title may be a bit misleading.

 

There are very few real Nature-Scenes or Landscapes on-view among the many small-scale oils of Historic-Buildings & Religious-Scenes.

 

The Idea of Nature is that most of these French-Paintings were made en-plein-aire: Outdoors, not in a Studio.

 

Rather, this Collection looks like the kind of Souvenir-Paintings one would acquire on The-Grand-Tour.

 

A stark high-columned Interior of a Dutch-Church surely wasn’t painted en-plein-aire: Nor by a French-Painter…

 

My favorite image—which would have had to have been painted At-Night, if truly en-plein-aire—showed a frantic English-Poet, struggling with the Shroud-Enwrapped-Corpse of his Daughter, who could not be buried in a Roman-Catholic-Cemetery, as she was a Protestant.

 

That’s why they have a Protestant-Cemetery in Florence.

 

It’s still cheaper to bury Dead-Englishmen in Italy, especially Poets, in what—to Italian-Catholics—must surely be Unhallowed-Ground, rather than to ship their Corpses back to Bloomsbury

 

 

Blues-Lovers & Video-Addicts Should Flock To the Whitney To See & Hear BLUES FOR SMOKE!

 

If you love Video-Art—or even just plain Videos of Black-Musicians jamming—then the Whitney’s current Blues for Smoke may be just the show for you.

 

But this colorful-collage of American-Artistry isn’t only about Media-on-Monitors.

 

It is inclusive, in the sense that Blues is now so pervasive in American-Culture, that its Essences inform Painting, Sculpture, Drawing, Photography, Literature, Conceptual-Art, Performance-Art, Art-Installations, & Multi-Media-Explorations.

 

There will be, in fact, both Lectures & Performances in the framework of this show: How about Lonnie Holley, Matana Roberts, Annette Peacock, Loren Connors, & Thomas Bradshaw?

 

LA Contemporary-Art Museum Curator Bennett Simpson will, for example, discuss: Why Contemporary-Art Gives Me the Blues. [Just being-in & working-in LA will give you the Blues, but that’s not in the Focus of this Exhibition…]

 

Also scheduled is: Speaking the Blues: An Evening of Poetry—inspired by the Blues-Aesthetic in American-Poetry. On tap will be such Poets as Tracie Morris, Haryette Mullen, & Cornelius Eady.

 

Even an evening of Short-Films will explore or demonstrate the Blues-Aesthetic. These Brief-Movies have been selected by Kevin Jerome Everson, whose own Filmic-Work & Photography are said to "evoke this tradition.”

 

There will even be another evening of Readings of works by Gay Black Men, "from the Nineteen Eighties and Nineties.”

 

Among those Poets & Writers will be David Frechette, Marlon Riggs, & Assotto Saint, long dead from The-Plague. This has been curated by Gregg Bordowitz, an AIDS-Survivor, who describes himself in the Press-Release as: "a New York Jewish Bisexual Intellectual.” [Caps added…]

 

[Who, in Manhattan, actually gets to decide who is or is not an Intellectual? How can one recognize one?]

 

Among the Media-Works at various Viewing-Stations are: Minor Threat, Richard Pryor Live in Concert, Duke Ellington: Symphony in Black, Bad Brains, & Cecil Taylor: All the Notes.

 

There are also Artworks on-view, not all of them by African-American-Artists. Willliam Eggleston, for instance, offers two photos taken in Mississippi, both of them titled: Untitled.

 

More impressive, however, are such works as Romare Bearden’s Pittsburgh Memory & Train-Whistle Blues.

 

As you enter the Whitney’s Third-Floor, you will be confronted by David Hammons’ Art-Installation: Chasing the Blue Train, [1989]. This work is apparently on-loan from Ghent’s Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele-Kunst—known in Belgium as SMAK.

 

Amid a Landscape of Grand-Piano-Lids, standing on edge, there are meandering Train-Tracks, even passing through a Tunnel in a heap of Polished-Black-Stones.

 

In the Foreground sits a tiny Blue-Train, which is supposedly Programmed to move forward now & then, but it did not Budge the entire time Your Roving Arts-Reporter was on Floor-Three, constantly rushing back to see if it would actually move

 

Now, Blue-Trains can be really Bluesy & even Smokey, but it’s more fun when they are In-Motion

 

 

Tennessee Williams’ CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF  [****]

           

It’s All About Inheritance: Who Will Get Big-Daddy’s Rich-Plantation—No-Neck-Monsters?

           

At the opening of the current-revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof—at what used to be the 46th-Street-Theatre, many years ago—Chris Oram’s gauzy-setting seems to be smoldering, as Smoke drifts about the Drapes.

 

This may be a Visual-Metaphor for the barely-banked-fires of Maggie-the-Cat, who knows that Big-Daddy is dying of Inoperable-Cancer.

 

That means that his Vast-Plantation will soon pass to one of his two sons: either the Over-Eager Gooper, with his Pushy-Wife & Horde of No-Neck-Monsters, or to his Favorite, Brick, who can’t seem to get-it-up for his Lawfully-Wedded-Wife, Maggie.

 

Burl Ives was not available for this effortful-production, but Ciarán Hinds does the best he can with the role of Big-Daddy.

 

Debra Monk—a Broadway-Favorite—is a Southern-Caricature as Big-Mama, but what can you do with Tennessee Williams’ Characters, who are seldom far from Caricature, even in The Glass Menagerie?

 

The Glue that holds Rob Ashford’s revival together is the amazing Scarlett Johansson, as the Indomitable-Maggie!

 

As Brick—who is becoming a Professional-Alcoholic, because of the Death of his Best-Buddy, with whom he had a Very-Pure-Friendship, with No-Hint of Locker-Room-HomosexualityBenjamin Walker gets to walk about the stage on crutches, initially at least, in a Gym-Towel, which some Ladies in the Front-Row may be hoping will come unsecured

 

For those who already Know-the-Play, of course Maggie has to get Brick Sober-Enough for her to Conceive an Heir for Big-Daddy’s Acres.

 

The Handsome Walker—who is No-Body-Builder—is OK in the role of Brick & he is also the Son-in-Law of Meryl Streep!

 

As Revivals seem to be the Thing now for Producers who are terrified of Taking-Risks on Broadway—at least with what used to be called Serious-Dramas—it’s interesting that Clifford Odets is also Making-a-Comeback.

 

There are, however, a number of Dramas by Williams that would be interesting to see again on-stage, but No-One is going to take a chance on a new-mounting of Camino-Real, even with an All-Star-Cast

 

 

CAN VENICE BE SAVED? That Was The-Question at the Annual-Paul-Mellon-Lecture,

Delivered at the Morgan-Library/Museum for the World-Monument-Fund, Which Saves Landmarks.

 

Possibly, Venice cannot be Saved

 

But that’s not because No-Plans have been made to keep the Lagoon from drowning under Rising-Water-Levels. Or Sudden-Storms.

 

There are, in fact, several Flood-Control-Systems already planned to keep Tidal-Surges & Globally-Warmed-Waters from inundating the Grand-Palazzi & sinking St. Mark’s.

 

No less an Expert than Anna Somers CocksFormer-Chairman of the Venice-in-Peril-Fund—showed Models & Drawings of various very Sophisticated-Flood-Containment-Barriers during her admirably-illustrated Paul-Mellon-Lecture at the Morgan.

 

What may soon destroy Venice is Tourism!

 

Every Year now, some 17-Million-Tourists descend upon St. Mark’s-Square & the Doge’s-Palace.

 

Cocks showed some recent photos with every Bridge & Walkway crammed with Tourists, so densely-packed that it’s a wonder anyone can move.

 

The Program for the Mellon-Lecture had a Cover-Photo of an Immense Six-Decked-Cruise-Ship dwarfing the Campanile.

 

Another of Cocks’ photos showed the Cruise-Ship-Docks, with Eight-Elephantine-Sea-Hotels at Anchor. They eclipsed the Landmarks & the Landscape.

 

Oddly enough, only One-Third of the Passengers debark in Venice. But that’s quite enough to generate Major-Human-Traffic-Jams.

 

Another Menace-to-Venice is the Ancient-Infrastructure: Crumbling-Bricks & Scaling-Stonework seem the Rule in many of the Side-Streets & Lesser-Canals.

 

Venice could Fall-Down before it Drowns

 

Nonetheless, the Jobs created by such Massive-Tourism are not easily cast-aside.

 

Nor are matters made easy by the Number of Government-Agencies that are more or less Responsible for the Preservation-&-Welfare of the Queen-of-the-Adriatic.

 

Venice, after all, is located in Italy, famous for fecklessness.

 

Almost Two-Centuries-Ago, George Gordon, Lord Byron, was already worried about the Survival of Venice.

 

Rome is fortunate that it is not sited on the Sea.

 

[For more information about the Mellon-Lectures & the Preservation-Projects of the World-Monument-Fund, log-on to www.wmf.org.]

 

 

New MoMA-Show: Dieter Roth’s Wait, Later This Will Be Nothing

Features Salamis Stuffed with Ground-Up-Books & Toys Embedded-in-Chocolate!

 

Dieter Roth was Western-Europe’s Post-War Arts-Enfant-Terrible, outraging Established-Taste & enabling a Cohort of Avant-Gardistes.

 

How about filling Salami & Sausage-Casings with Paper-Pulp made by grinding-up either Your-Most-Loved-Books or Most-Despised-Tomes-&-Newspapers & metaphorically Eating-Them?

 

Roth’s Artworks-in-Chocolate might once have been Edible, but now they are sadly ageing.

 

But that’s the Meaning of this Funky-Show’s Title: All Roth’s Creations, he suggested, will someday Bio-Degrade…

 

Of course, that’s not what Art-Collectors really want—least of all, MoMA, which has mounted this show largely from its Own-Collections.

 

Fortunately, few of the Items on-view show signs of Absolute-Degradation-of-Materials: even Roth’s tiny 1968 Self-Portrait-Bust—which is compounded of Chocolate & Birdseed—has held-up rather well.

 

The Actual-Title of this Bust is: P.O.TH.A.A.VFB, which stands for Portrait of the Artist as a Vogelfutterbüste.

 

Just in case your Schweizerdeutsch is a bit rusty, Vogelfutter is Teutonic for Birdseed.

 

This Bust was "acquired through the generosity of Peter H. Friedland.”

 

But the Sue & Edgar Wachenheim III Fund apparently also had something to do with its Acquisition

 

How about Two-Bunnies, made of Rabbit-Droppings & Straw?

 

These come from the Dieter-Roth-Foundation in Hamburg, Germany. In German, they are known as Karnickelköttelkarnickel.

 

Roth was Ethnic-Swiss, but born in Germany in 1930, before Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933. So Roth had the opportunity to become a Hitler-Youth, growing-up in Hannover, Germany.

 

Having Swiss-Citizenship saved Roth from the World-War-II Bombings, as he retreated to Zürich.

 

Despite Roth’s resolution to try-out all kinds of Art-Fun, he was actually a Gifted-Graphic-Artist, as some of the works on-view make very clear.

 

He is seen as the First-Artist to make Books into Works-of-Art, not merely Texts illustrated by Art.

 

But Dieter Roth is not the first Modern-Artist to create Artworks that were meant to Destroy-Themselves or Degrade over time.

 

Museum-Curators & Conservationists, however, are determined that their Precious-Holdings of such
Artworks will not, in fact, disappear.

 

Just think of the Investment involved…

 

           

Gaetano Donizetti’s DON PASQUALE  [****]

 

Remarkable Baronial-Hall Dominates Juilliard-Production of Marital-Misfires Somewhere in Italy.

           

Were it not for some Charming-Melodies in Donizetti’s Don Pasquale, it probably would not get as many revivals as it does.

 

The Fable of a Rich-Old-Man deciding to marry, only to be epically-harassed by a Young-Wife—from whom he is soon delighted to Separate—has been told more than once.

 

But Don Pasquale’s Bride is none other than the Penniless-Norina, the True-Love of his Nephew, Ernesto—who refuses the Wealthy-Bride the Don has chosen for him.

 

Whereupon the Don disinherits him & plans to marry, to Teach-Him-a-Lesson.

 

Jeongcheol Cha was sufficiently-flustered as the Don & in Good-Voice.

 

Javier Abreu was an energetic Ernesto, but his Shaved-Head made him look Older than a Young-Italian-Swain might want to appear.

 

Deanna Breiwick’s wonderfully-animated Spit-Fire Norina was not only lovely & lively to behold, but she also sang with clarity & charm: a Star-of-Tomorrow!

 

As her Brother, Malatesta, who is also the Don’s Doctor & Master of the Fake-MatrimonialsTobias Greenhalgh was elegantly adroit & vocally-powerful.

 

But the Visual-Star-of-the-Show was the imposing Baronial-Setting, designed by Shoko Kambara, with its three great Mural-Panels upstage & a Bibliophiliac-Clutter pouring off every surface.

 

When Norina—posing as the Don’s new Wife—decides to do a Modernist-Make-Over, the Panels reverse, to reveal stark Black-&-White-Horizontals.

 

At the close, in the Don’s Garden, the Panels fly-aloft, leaving only the elegant Hardwood-Framing of the Baronial-Hall.

 

For Scenes off the Don’s Estate, a colorful Art-Deco-Collage of 1920s-Ads descends in front of the Hall: Super-Effect!

 

Norina’s Layered-Panel Red-Silk Dress—designed by Amanda Seymour—is just what a Smartly-Dressed & Newly-Wealthy Woman would want to wear.

 

This Dress—with its Hip-Enhancing-Silhouette—makes Norina-in-Action the Center-of-Attention, eclipsing the Furious-&-Frustrated-Don & all others on-stage.

 

Stephen Lord genially conducted the Juilliard-Orchestra, with staging by James Robinson, who didn’t know what to do with the Chorus at times.

 

 

MISS LA LA ALOFT: Edgar Degas’ Painting of Black-Prussian-Aerialist at Cirque-Fernando

 

One of the Great-Sensations for Parisians who visited the Cirque-Fernando in the 1870s was Miss La La being hauled-up almost to the 70-Foot-Ceiling, hanging by her Teeth!

 

This so fascinated Edgar Degas—famed for his interest in Ballet-Girls—that he made studies for the colorful painting now at the Morgan, on loan from London’s National-Gallery.

 

He also sketched the Dental-Apparatus by which Miss La La was raised aloft & suspended while she did some Aerialist-Turns.

 

Born in Prussia to a Black-Father & a White-Mother, Miss La La also rejoiced in other Stage-Names, such as The Black Venus, Venus of the Tropics, & La Femme Canon.

 

The latter-name referred to her most impressive Aerial-Act: Hanging Upside-Down from a Trapeze, she held a 150-Pound-Cannon by her Teeth, after which feat, the Cannon  was fired, with a "tremendous report.”

 

Perhaps this was too-complicated for Degas to record in Oils?

 

The new Morgan Circus-Show evokes not only the Talents of Miss La La—whose real name was Olga—but also the World of Circus-Fernando, a celebrated One-Ring-Circus, as was & is the Custom in Europe.

 

No Three-Ring-Circuses

 

When Your Roving Arts-Reporter was teaching in Verdun, in the late 1950s, he would on-occasion—on a Paris-Weekend—buy a ticket for a One-Ring-Circus-Performance at the Cirque-Medrano, which is what the Cirque-Fernando became.

 

Sadly, it was demolished in 1972.

 

Also at the Morgan are some Manuscript-Pages & Corrected-Galleys in the hand of Marcel Proust, whose A la Recherche du Temps Perdu is celebrating its Centenary.

 

           

Moisés Kaufman & Others’ THE LARAMIE PROJECT CYCLE  [*****]

 

GOD HATES FAGS! Did Organized-Religion Help Kill Matthew Shepard? Talking To Locals…

           

On 6 October 1998, young & pint-sized Matt Shepard was deliberately picked-up in a Laramie-Gay-Bar by Two-Straight-Teenagers who planned to Rob him & Teach-Him-a-Lesson

 

They left him tied to a Barbed-Wire-Fence, badly beaten, bleeding & Begging-for-Mercy.

 

When he was finally found & freed from the Fence, he was rapidly fading, dying in hospital, on 12 October, from his Fatal-Injuries.

 

Shepard had been a Student at the University-of-Wyoming, in Laramie.

 

His Ordeal was almost immediately described as a Hate-Crime, drawing Media-Carnivores from all over America & even Abroad.

 

In effect, Matthew Shepard soon became an Ikon, a kind of Patron-Saint for Oppressed, Despised, Feared, & Hated-Homosexuals & Lesbians.

 

Under the Leadership of Socially-Aware-Playwright Moisés Kaufman, the Tectonic-Project went to Laramie to Interview as many of the Locals who would speak to them, not only about Young-Matt, but also about their own Life-Styles & Sense-of-Community.

 

The Often-Astonishing-Interviews were then edited into a Riveting-Revelation of how the Citizens-of-Laramie thought about themselves & others, especially that Threatening-Outsider-Other who doesn’t Get-Married & Raise-a-Family, as God Intended

 

The Script—performed by the Tectonic-Interviewers—was premiered by the Denver-Theatre-Center, at that time headed by my old friend, Donovan Marley.

 

Kaufman & Leigh Fondakoswki were the Chief-Writers, but they were ably-assisted by the Actor/Playwright Stephen Belber, Greg Pierotti, Andy Paris, & Barbara Pitts, among others.

 

Now—more than a Decade after the 2000AD Denver-Premiere & Cross-Country & Worldwide-ToursThe Laramie Project is on the Road again, its New-York-Venue being the Harvey-Theatre at BAM.

 

But this time, it’s enhanced-&-extended by a Second-Part: The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later.

 

Over at BAM, the Double-Productions are animated by some of the Originators: Stephen Belber, Greg Pierotti, Andy Paris, & Barbara Pitts, plus Michael Winther, Amanda Gronich, Mercedes Herrero,Libby King.

 

What many people in Laramie did not understand—way back in 1998—is that Matthew Shepard had not chosen to be Gay.

 

Not only did many Pious-Fundamentalist-Evangelical-Christians & Mormons, as well, believe that God had Forbidden any Sexual-Congress with Persons of the Same-Sex, but also that being what they saw as Sexually-Perverse was a Life-Style, a Matter-of-Choice.

 

Being Gay or Lesbian was especially horrendous to Mormons, who are supposed to Procreate as much as Possible, to enlarge not only the Fellowship of the Local-Stake-Church, but also to Populate the Heavens to which they would ascend upon their Deaths, to be forever in the Celestial-Kingdoms-of-Their-Ancestors.

 

Well, what can you say to Bible-Thumpers who deeply, sincerely Believe that Every-Word in the Bible is The-Revealed-Word-of-God?

 

In some cases—in the wake of the Matthew-Shepard-Frenzy—this translated into Parsons carrying Signs bearing the Legend: GOD HATES FAGS

 

When Audiences entered the Harvey for Part I of The Laramie Project, the first thing[s] they saw were Five-Tables, each in a different style, with Eight-Chairs behind them, also each different.

 

Was this some kind of Arty-Designer-Conception, possibly Alien to what promised to be a very Straight-Forward-Encounter with the Citizens-of-Laramie?

 

I pondered this Vision for a while & then Decoded it to mean that the Varied-Furnishings were to suggest the various Local-Venues in which the Interviews would take place…

 

Ten years later, the Tectonic-Folks returned to Laramie—in 2008, to be precise—to discover that they had some Heaping-Helpings of Self-Denial on their Tectonic-Plates, for some Locals had already chosen to Forget-&-Move-On, or Pooh-Pooh all the Fuss for what they believed was merely a Robbery or a Bad-Drug-Deal Gone-Wrong

 

Most revealing, however, were the Two-Interviews, made in Prison, with the Once-Teen-Aged-Perpetrators—now much Older, if not so much Wiser.

 

Had the Motive only been Robbery, they didn’t need to pick an Obviously-Gay-Victim.

 

Having Successfully-Robbed a Victim, it is not necessary to tie him to a Fence & Beat-Him-To-Death

 

Unless, of course, you somehow feel Your-Manhood is Threatened by His-Existence.

 

As for the Pious-Evangelicals pointing-out that the Holy-Bible forbids Sexual-Congress between Two-Men, there is that Text that Commands Orthodox-Jews not to Covet "Thy Neighbor’s Man-Servant, His Maid-Servant, His Ox, or His Ass.”

 

Mormons, especially, should Not-Covet their Neighbor’s-Ass

 

 

Visible Fictions’ THE MARK OF ZORRO  [*****]

 

Who Was That Masked-Man with That Flowing-Black-Cape? ZORRO, of course, But from the UK…

           

The many-times-told & retold Legend-of-Zorro—set in Spanish-California, long before the Gringos came—has now been deftly-packaged for International-Touring, performed by Three-Brits & a Remarkable-Core of Panels, Doors, Shutters, & What-Have-You that variously Unfold, Expand, or Transmogrify to suggest Locales, Buildings, Landscapes, & Interiors.

 

The Zorro-Team of Tim Settle, Denise Hoey, & Neil Thomas personify a Range-of-Characters, shifting Identities as the Cape-&-Sword-Drama progresses.

 

Even Very-Young-Spectators at the New-Victory-Theatre—which specializes in Shows that delight Kids, while also amusing their Parents—were on the edges of their seats: Would Zorro foil the Foul-Plots of the Villainous-Captain of the Guard of the Governor of the Pueblo of Los-Angeles?

 

Well, yes, of course he would! That’s what being Zorro—as well as Leaving-His-Mark at every Scene of Evil-Averted—is All-About!

 

If you have never seen a Zorro-Movie or TV-Incarnation, The Mark-of-Zorro is a Stylishly-Zigzagged Z

 

Davey Anderson wrote the clever Script, with Robin Peoples designing the Set-Core & Costumes, for Director Douglas Irvine.

 

 

Thomas Adès’ POWDER HER FACE  [*****]

           

For a "Good-Time,” Call The-New-York-City-Opera: Oral-Sex Onstage at BAM, Plus 24-Naked-Men!

           

Way back in 1963, Margaret Campbell, Duchess of Argyll, was divorced by her Fun-Loving, Kilt-Wearing, Highland-Flinger, the Duke of Argyll, when a Hoard of Sex-Polaroids were introduced as Evidence of the Duchess’ own Flings with some 88 Men-for-Hire.

 

Now, over in Brooklyn, you can relive those days of the "Dirty-Duchess,” in the NY City-Opera’s handsome new staging of Thomas Adès’ operatic-treatment of a London-Tabloid-Storm worthy of the Latter-Day Rupert-Murdoch Yellow-Press.

 

I first saw Powder Her Face after it was commissioned by the Almeida-Opera for the Cheltenham-Festival.

 

At that time, Adès was only 24-years-old, but much, much older in his interest in composing an Adult-Opera about a Female-Don-Juan, whose Special-Talent was Fellatio, performed largely on what the Brits then called Rent-Boys.

 

The Narrative-Trajectory of Powder is fractured, beginning with the Ending—with which it also Ends.

 

In fact, Margaret Campbell even has her final Blanche-DuBois-Moment

 

The Disgraced-Duchess—now Penniless & Hopeless—is being evicted from her Luxurious-Hotel-Suite, as she catches a Handyman-Electrician [William Ferguson] in her Wig-&-Gown, declaiming her Sorrows.

 

He is abetted & encouraged by her Maid [Nili Riemer] who has betrayed her, bedded by the Duke, to whom she also has shown the Fatal-Polaroids that he uses in Court.

 

As the White-Wigged-Judge rules on the Divorce-Action, he is also being Fellated under his Gown by a Likely-Lad.

 

As the Evicting-Hotel-Manager—as well as the Duke & the Judge—Basso Matt Boehler is outstanding, switching not only Characters, but also Inflections & Styles.

 

As the Duchess, Allison Cook is nothing short of remarkable, not only in the difficult Vocal-Passages Adès has written for her, but also in her willingness to Go-Down for her Art. This is not something you can learn at the Royal-Opera-House, Covent-Garden…

 

As for the 24-Naked-Men, they do not have to Sing, but they do have to disport themselves about the vast Howard-Gilman-Opera-house-Stage in Provocative-Positions.

 

This is not something that is taught at the American-Academy-of-Dramatic-Art, nor in the Juilliard-Drama-Program.

 

Fortunately, with Job-Opportunities what they now are for Stage-Actors, functioning as Waiters—as a Second-Career-Alternative—has been enlarged by playing Escorts.

 

[As one Young-Stud put it: "If you really like Sucking-Cock, it’s even better being paid for it!”]

 

[Consider the Freedom-of-Expression that was available to the youthful Thomas Adès that the Mature Verdi & Puccini could not even have dreamt-of: Heroines dying of TB are indeed Pathetic, but what about an Anti-Heroine who is in danger of HIV—or at least Trench-Mouth?]

 

[Now that the Met has found it a Crowd-Pleaser to up-date Rigoletto to a Las-Vegas-Casino-Circus, can Carmen be far behind, giving Blow-Jobs to both Don-José & her Torero?]

 

In the opening-moments of the NYCO-Production, it seemed that Powder was to be a Huge-Video, with only a peek at the bottom of the screen of the Actual-Actions onstage.

 

Soon, the Duchess’ Chambers appeared, in all their Elegant, Towering, Majesty, complete with Two-Beds, a Wardrobe, some Suitcases, & Mirror-Enriched-Bathrooms.

 

Everything was a soft Blue-Gray in hue, with Chelsey Blackmon following the Action with a Video-Camera

 

Marsha Ginsburg’s ever-moving Set-Elements suggested a Post-Post-Modernist-Production at ENO, the English-National-Opera.

 

Or a Fugitive from the Salzburg-Festival, which also loves Chambers that seem to be located in the Tahoe-National-Forest—if not the Black-Forest—with the straight tall Tree-Trunks spotted here & there…

 

There was also a Functioning-Automobile onstage, as in a recent Salzburg Don-Giovanni

 

The Dirty-Duchess’ "Intimate-Apparel” was provided by La Perla!

 

Costume-Designer Alba Clemente could have saved a lot of money with all those Nude-Men on-stage, but she apparently also designed Bathrobes for all of them, for the Curtain-Call.

 

When I saw the Show, they didn’t make a Bow, although Our-Whole-Row was hoping to see them Buck-Naked again.

 

Jay Scheib staged with vigor, adding some Odd-Visual-Activities, which must had had a Metaphoric-Significance that eluded me.

 

Jonathan Stockhammer subtly conducted the Demanding-Score—which has more than its share of Anton-Webern Hoot-&-Tinkle.

 

Although the NYCO’s Glory-Days, under Julius Rudel & Beverly Sills, seemed over—when it was thrust-out of the David H. Koch Memorial-State-Theatre—thanks the Top-Drawer-Productions like Powder Her Face, it will live again, not only at BAM, but also where it began, back at the New-York-City-Center-for-Music-&-Drama!

 

 

Impressionism & Fashion at the Met! Manet & Monet were not only into Bustles & Corsets…

 

Actually, the splendid new Impressionist-Show at the Met-Museum—although its many Iconic-Paintings look like the French-Equivalent of High-Victorian-Style—celebrates the Modernity of Impressionist-Artists’ depiction of 1860s-1880s French-Fashions.

 

To Denizens of the Twenty-First-Century, they may instead look like Ancient-History.

 

In fact, the Academic-Painters of that time were often engaged in filling Huge-Canvases with Historic-Scenes or Apocryphal-Events from the Holy-Bible.

 

So, yes, the Impressionists certainly were on the Cutting-Edge of Cultural-Modernity, even if it came with a Parasol & a Bustle.

 

Anyway, what’s the Cutting-Off-Date for Modern-Art?

 

Now, of course, the many wonderfully-observed Group-Scenes of Rich-Elitist-Parisians—enjoying their Wealth, Fine-Clothes, Fine-Wines, & the Company of Family, Friends, & Social-Equals—may well look like Period-Pieces.

 

Some will also surely look like Old-Friends—so often are they on Museum-Walls or reproduced in Prints & Art-Books. Many in this show are Met-Treasures, but the Musée d’Orsay has also enriched the Met’s-Walls with its own Masterpieces.

 

Once upon a time, on the Left-Bank of the River-Seine, one of Paris’ most magnificent Railroad-Stations was the Gâre d’Orsay.

 

But, when the Trains stopped running on time, this Beaux-Arts-Monument was transformed into a Museum of Art-&-Design, often with an Art-Nouveau aspect.

 

The Good-Fortune of Your Roving Arts-Reporter was to be invited to the Official-Opening & the Press-Preview of the Musée d’Orsay. I was also encouraged to photograph almost everything in sight, the Images of which Photo-Safari are now in The-Arts-Archive.

 

An important development in the Era spotlighted in this show was the emergence of the French-Version of the Department-Store, as well as major Fashion-Magazines, such as the Journal des Demoiselles & La Mode Illustrée

 

Actual Magazine-Issues, Fashion-Plates, Gowns, Corsets, Bustles, & other Accoutrements for Fine-French-Ladies are also on-view.

 

Highlights of the exhibition include Monet’s Luncheon on the Grass [1865-66] & Women in the Garden [1866], Bazille’s Family Reunion [1867], Bartholomé’s In the Conservatory [Madame Bartholomé] [ca. 1881, paired with the Sitter’s-Dress], & 16 other Key-Loans from the Musée d’Orsay.

 

Also enriching the Met’s walls: Monet’s Camille [1866] from the Kunsthalle-Bremen, Renoir’s Lise [Woman with Umbrella] [1867] from the Museum-Folkwang, Essen, & Manet’s La Parisienne [ca. 1875] from the Nationalmuseum, Stockholm, which have never before traveled to the U.S.

 

As well as: Caillebotte’s Paris Street—Rainy Day [1877] and Degas’ The Millinery Shop [ca. 1882-86] from the Art Institute of Chicago; Renoir’s The Loge [1874] from The Courtauld-Gallery, London; & Cassatt’s In the Loge [1878] from the Museum of Fine-Arts, Boston.

 

This show is closing at the Met on 27 May 2013, so it’s almost worth a trip to Manhattan to see it!

 

 

Marilyn "Jackie” Horne Conducts a Masterful Master-Class at Manhattan-School-of-Music!

 

What is it with Young-Opera-Aspirants?

 

In Master-Classes—whether at the Juilliard or the Manhattan-School-of-Music; whether led by Thomas Hampson, Catherine Malfitano, or Marilyn Horne—why do almost all of them beam-brightly at the Audience & then sing their Chosen-Arias at Full-Force?

 

On Key, of course. But with no Legato or Nuance

 

Perhaps they are trying to show the Acknowledged-Masters that they can fill an Opera-house with Glorious-Sound—with no need of Electronic-Amplification?

 

Nonetheless, there’s more to interpreting a role such as Carmen or Brünnhilde than being able to be heard in the last row of seats.

 

"Jackie” Horne is known—Worldwide—as one of the most generous, thoughtful, & helpful of Singer/Teachers.

 

So, when a Young-Soprano, singing Debussy, refers to a Season, it should not sound like Cézanne. He was a Painter, not a Time-of-Year

 

Horne not only emphasizes the Importance of being able to articulate-accurately Foreign-Words & Phrases with ease while singing, but also to have some Idea of the Character of the Person they have chosen to inhabit or impersonate on the Opera-Stage.

 

At the MSM—in its Art-Deco Borden-Auditorium—Horne attracted a large audience, eager to see the Stars-of-Tomorrow. She had already worked with them in Studio, but now, it was time to see how they’d function in a real Opera-Venue.

 

What was surely impressive for many in the Audience was Horne’s ability to still sing all the Arias softly, sensitively & skillfully—to show Students what she meant in Interpretation—even though she is now almost 78-years-old!

 

Among the Aspiring-Singers were Amelia Berry, Clarissa Parrish, Seung Hyeon Baek, Tamara Rusque, Leela Subramaniam, & Noragh Devlin. They were all accompanied by MSM Piano-Students.

 

 

At the Guggenheim: Lots of Food & Lots of Talk & Talkers about "Art-Mapping” in SE-Asia…

 

Thanks to the Corporate-Sponsorship of UBS, there were Ample-Brunch-Treats at the Press-Preview for No Country: Contemporary Art for South & Southeast-Asia, premiering at the Guggenheim-Museum, before moving on to Hong-Kong.

 

Most Press-Previews now do not even feature Coffee or Tea. Art-Critics have to content themselves with savoring the Art on the Walls. Or on the TV-Monitors, as Video-Art is taking over the World.

 

This Guggenheim/UBS MAP Global-Art-Initiative eventually will explore other Areas in what are often optimistically-called Emerging-Nations.

 

The actual Art on-view was rather sparse, considering that No [One] Country included India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia, & the Philippines.

 

[Curiously, Laos & Cambodia were not included, but the Met-Museum has made up for that Oversight with some marvelous Rattan-Sculptures from Cambodia!]

 

Some of the Artworks were similar in Concept, Form, & Content to admired Art in the Whitney-Biennial. Who says American-Culture hasn’t permeated South-East-Asia?

 

Most arresting was a Wall-Filling Mural-Collage that looked like a Bollywood-Film Ad-Campaign gone Mad.

 

This was the Ingenious-Invention of Navin Rawanchaikul, who was born & raised in Thailand, although his Parents came there from India. Into its 23-feet-length, Rawanchaikul has crowded Faces of Family & People he met on his Passage-to-India.

 

Rawanchaikul & his Family are Center-pieced in an Indian-Taxi!

 

 

Also at the Guggenheim: Gutai: Splendid Playground, presenting the "Creative-Spectrum of Japan’s most influential Avant-Garde-Collective of the Post-War-Years.”

 

I cannot tell you more about this new show, as I was not invited to the Press-Preview on the previous week. UBS has a different Press-Rep, apparently.

 

Nor were any of the Critics & Reporters for No Country allowed to go higher in the Frank-Lloyd-Wright-Rotunda than the Second-Floor-Galleries.

 

But—strung across the Rotunda—were a series of long, sagging, clear-plastic hammock-like tubes, filled with Water, colored with Varied-Dyes. This Work is aptly-titled: Work (Water).

 

One hopes none of these Polyethylene-Vessels springs a Leak

 

           

Tina Packer’s WOMEN OF WILL  [*****]

 

Seven-Ages of Man in Shakespeare, but Five-Stages of Women-Characters!

           

The admirable & excellent Tina Packer—currently appearing in the Balcony-less Basement-Gym-Space of the Judson-Memorial-Church—interprets that famed Balcony-Scene from Romeo & Juliet with a Passion & Sensitivity that was missing out in the current Denver-Theatre-Center production.

 

Tina Packer is a Mature-Woman, an accomplished Actress, but she is not trying to emulate Mrs. Patrick Campbell or other Bygone-Thespians, who insisted on playing Young-Roles when they were long-past the Sell-Date.

 

Instead, Women of Will is an interesting form of Lecture-Demonstration.

 

Instead of Shakespeare’s famed Seven-Ages-of-Man, Packer suggests that for Women, the Bard had Five-Stages of Character-Development.

 

Juliet & Rosalind can hardly compare with Cleopatra or Lady Macbeth: "A little water clears us of this deed.”

 

In Elizabethan-Usage, Will not only referred to a Powerful-Force, but also to Pleasure, especially Sexual, including reference to the Male-Member! [Twelfth-Night, or What-You-Will…]

 

Even today, in Not-so-Merrie England, Vulgar-Persons still refer to Penises as "Willies.”

 

Nigel Gore ably-assists Packer in Two-Character-Scenes, but occasionally she plays both Roles.

 

After the show, Audience-Members are invited to take Felt-Pens & scribble Shakespeareana or other Observations on the Raw-Wood of the Three-Sided-Seating.

 

Mine would have been: Who would have thought that these Old-Plays had So-Much-Blood in them?

 

 

ANDY WARHOL Art-Artifacts Up for On-Line-Bidding at Christie’s!

 

How about a Valentine’s-Day-Card from Andy Warhol?

 

Your Roving Arts-Reporter has one right here by the Keyboard of the Mighty-Mac: I Love Your Kiss/Forever/Forever/Happy Valentine’s Day/Andy Warhol.

 

Way back when, I used to write for Andy: his INTER/View, for which he then paid $25 per feature.

 

But this Post-Valentine-Card was not from Beyond-the-Grave

 

It was to remind me that The-Press was invited down to Christie’s to see some of the Warhol-Artworks that soon would be available for On-Line-Bidding!

 

Some items were little more than Andy’s Polaroids. But with Steven Spielberg or Bob Rauschenberg as the Sitter, why not bid & buy?

 

Prices range from a suggested-bid of $600 to $70,000. There are 125 Paintings, Drawings, Photographs, & Prints in this initial Online-Auction.

 

More will follow, as the Andy-Warhol-Foundation-for-the-Visual-Arts divests itself of Hundreds & Hundreds of Holdings, to benefit its various Projects-in-the-Arts, in conjunction with Christie’s, which is the Designated-Vendor. Private-Sales can also be arranged.

 

For more Info, contact: Amelia Manderscheid at amanderscheid@christie’s.com.

 

Heritage-Auctions sells exclusively On-Line, but this is Christie’s first venture into the Internet-Ether.

 

Time was when an Auction-LotPainting, Sculpture, Poster—would be placed on an Easel beside the Auctioneer. That’s no longer necessary…

 

At Bonham’s recent Auction of Paintings of Bird-Dogs & Pet-Poodles, the many handsome pictures of Prize-Hunting-Hounds remained in-place on the walls.

 

On a TV-Monitor beside the Auctioneer, they appeared in Full-Digital-Color, while Potential-Bidders checked-them-out on their iPads or in the handsome Catalogue.

 

Of course, Phone-Bids can still be taken, but why bother when you can e-Mail your Bid?

 

 

PS: On 4 April 2013, Christie’s will launch its Spring-Photograph-Sales, featuring a "Landmark-Sale” of: the deLIGHTed eye: Modernist Masterworks from a Private-Collection.

 

 

At the Grolier: A Plenitude of Handsome "Little-Magazines,” with Beardsley & Elbert Hubbard…

 

Although this engrossing little exhibition is titled American Little Magazines of the 1890s: A

Revolution in Print, it is handsomely put-in-context with some splendid examples of Little-Magazines from London, Paris & even Munich.

 

William Morris’ Arts-&-Crafts-Movement & the insidious influence of Art-NouveauJugendstil, in Germany—did much to shape Graphic-Design & Limpid-Illustrations of American-Counterparts.

 

Here’s Aubrey Beardsley’s Decadent-Line in The Yellow Book. But you can also find Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec in Le Chat Noir.

 

What distinguishes the American Little-Magazines from their English & Continental-Models is the wide, wide range of Interests, Causes, Culture, Social-Programs, or Poetry they espoused.

 

They sprang up like Mushrooms, all over the Nation. Not only in New York…

 

Symbolism, Decadence, Free-Thought, Anarchism, Utopianism: all found their Handsomely-Designed-Print-Outlets.

 

How about Elbert Hubbard & the Roycrofters?

 

Not to overlook Stephen Crane, Booth Tarkington, Clarence Darrow, & Local-Colorist Kate Chopin.

 

This fascinating Show is, in an odd way, a Printed-Slice of American-History!

 

Upstairs, on the Grolier’s Second-Floor-Gallery, the Graphics & Books are all about Microscopes—including seemingly-monstrous Fleas that could be glimpsed under the Lenses

 

In May, the next show will celebrate the Centenary of the Garden-Club-of-America.

 

The Grolier is a Private-Club of Bibliophiles, but its members welcome the Public to enjoy its Periodic-Exhibitions Absolutely-Free. For more Info: www.GrolierClub.Org.

 

           

David Ives’ ALL IN THE TIMING  [*****]

 

Clockwork-Precision Marks the Cast-Work in the Hilarious Revival of Ives’ Six Timed-Parodies…

           

Robert Wilson! Eat Your Heart Out!

 

John Rando has eclipsed you in his staging of Philip Glass Buys a Loaf of Bread.

 

But then, the Idea of Three-Chimps—locked in a room with Three-Typewriters—so Researchers can see if they really will, eventually, type out Paradise-Lost, Gulliver’s-Travels, or The-Castle, isn’t really a Robert-Wilson-Scene

 

This Ives’ Invention is titled Words, Words, Words, but what are Words really Worth, Wordsworth?

 

Quite a Lot, in Ives-Land: Consider the Fraudulent-Efforts of Don to teach Dawn The Universal Language, a Parody of such Concocted-Languages as Esperanto & NuLingo.

 

You do not have to be actually, physically in Philadelphia to be sunk deep into The Philadelphia—where you might indeed eat a Cheese-Steak that you would never chomp-down-on in, say, Manhattan.

 

Being in a "Cleveland” is even worse…

 

As for Variations on the Death of Trotsky, it defies Leninist-Logic that Trotsky doesn’t seem to realize that there is already an Axe in his Skull!

 

Foreknowing the Method of his Stalin-Ordered-Assassination, Leon Trotsky has purchased a Skull, believing that—as it is indeed now "Trotsky’s-Skull”—his Communist-Mexican-Gardner-Killer will bury the Axe in that Skull

 

Coyoacán is still a terrible place to die.

 

This Sextet of Ivesian-Inventions are by no means Six-Easy-Pieces.

 

They require Split-Second-Timing, especially when Action-&-Dialogue are suddenly stopped & repeated.

 

Kudos to the Cast: Eric Clem, Carson Elrod, Jenn Harris, Liv Rooth, & Matthew Saldavar.

 

One Major-Manhattan-Critic must have fallen-asleep, for he referred to All in the Timing as consisting of only Three-Mini-Plays.

 

           

Teresa Deevy’s KATIE ROCHE  [***]

 

A Largely Overlooked & Forgotten Irish Playwright Gets a Second-Chance at Mint-Theatre.

           

Unfortunately, there is a Reason that Irish-Woman-Playwright Teresa Deevy has been neglected, even forgotten, even in her Native-Ireland.

 

Although she suffered from an Inner-Ear-Disease that made her Deaf, she was not deaf to the Genius of Chekhov & Shaw, as she sat in front-rows, learning to Lip-Read.

 

Her Life-Story is fascinating—briefly recounted in the Mint-Theatre-Program.

 

Notably, her Dramas were initially accepted & admired by the Abbey-Theatre, Eire’s National-Playhouse.

 

Then the Abbey turned its Metaphoric-Back on Deevy & her Dramas of Constricted-Irish-Life.

 

Admirably, Jonathan Bank—Founder of the Mint & director of Katie Roche—has tried to revive Deevy’s Reputation as a Chronicler of Irish-Life among the Humble, with some striving to be Great.

 

Bank has already given Manhattan-Audiences realistically-detailed productions of Deevy’s Wife to James Whelan & Temporal Powers.

 

The illegitimate young woman, Katie Roche, nonetheless has Intimations that she comes from Greatness.

 

This is True, but she makes the Mistake of marrying an Older-Uptight-Professional-Man—domiciled in Dublin—who leaves her in the Family-Cottage where she grew up.

 

Perhaps she should have married the poor but loving Irish-Lad, who promises to make a Home for her, but Michael MacGuire has no sense of the Greatness to which Katie aspires.

 

There are Plot-Complexities, but, finally—despite the passionate, even mercurial, acting of Wrenn Schmidt as Katie—her Story was not all that interesting to this Irish-American Theatre-Veteran.

 

           

Benjamin Britten’s THE TURN OF THE SCREW  [*****]

 

There’s Evil Onstage at BAM: Governess Battles Ghosts for Possession of Orphan-Children…

           

Seeing Miss Jessel rise up out of the stage-floor of the Howard-Gilman Opera-house at BAM, I was reminded of a long-ago production of Turn of the Screw at the Washington [DC] Opera.

 

Henry James’ haunting Dead-Governess was seen aloft in a Garden-Swing on the lonely Estate where the young & orphaned Miles & Flora are haunted by her Pregnant-Ghost & that of her Seducer-&-Destroyer, Peter Quint, also defunct, but still very much in evidence around the Manse.

 

As designed by David Farley, the New-York-City-Opera’s new staging of Turn of the Screw seemed initially in danger of being a Show about Light-Bulbs of various Sizes-&-Wattages rising & falling—sometimes almost to the Stage-Floor, from which both Miss Jessel & Peter Quint emerged from time to time.

 

Myfanwy PiperBenjamin Britten’s favored Librettist—deftly adapted James’ Tale-of-Demonic-Horror, for which Britten composed one of his most compelling Scores.

 

The Unnecessarily-Distracting-Presence of a Large-Screen-TV onstage—on which even Margaret Thatcher can be seen—raises Questions about this Modernizing by director Sam Buntrock.

 

[Buntrock also staged the Denver-Theatre-Center’s Software-Extravaganza, Ed, Downloaded.]

 

Frankly, a Victorian-Jamesian-Setting would have been more emotionally-effective, suggesting the way in which the Endangered-Children & their Desperate-Governess were closed-off from the Outside-World.

 

Home-Schooling with TV seems a bit Too-Modern for Ghost-Stories like this.

 

Nonetheless, Sara Jakubiak was valiant & compelling as the Governess, with Benjamin P. Wenzelberg outstanding as the already-lost young Miles. Ben Berg might be a better Stage-Name?

 

Dominic Armstrong was a properly demonic Peter Quint, with his passionate desire to Possess the alienated Miles entirely suggesting something a Catholic-Cleric could only dream about.

 

As the Very-Pregnant Miss Jessel, Jennifer Goode Cooper was very good. As was the Housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, stolidly interpreted by Sharmay Musacchio.

 

Jayce Ogren conducted, giving the NYCO another impressive addition to its Now-Diminished-Repertory, thanks to its having been exiled from what was once THE-NEW-YORK-STATE-THEATRE.

 

But is now the David H. Koch Memorial-Theatre, next door to Mercedes-Benz-Fashion-Week at Lincoln-Center, where Damrosch-Park seems to have quite disappeared

 

Recently, NYCO sold-off Costumes-&-Props from its Once-Glorious-Repertory.

 

New York Opera-Lovers can only hope that the NYCO-Ensemble—founded by Maestro Julius Rudel, Norman Triegle, & Beverly Sills—will survive, even if it has to Schlepp its still-handsome productions from Venue-to-Venue.

 

BAM will be its home for awhile, but the Future is Unknowable

 

 

Piero Della Francesca in America? When Did He Arrive? How Did He Get Through Customs?

 

Santa Monica is a lackluster-location in Southern-California, but it is also the Monicker of St. Monica, who was the Mother of Saint-Augustine, the Titular-Author of The Confessions of Saint Augustine.

 

A small but severe Portrait of Santa Monica—in the Habit of a Nun—is now on-view at the Frick-Collection, along with the Frick’s tall Altarpiece-Panel of St. John the Evangelist, as well as an imposing Panel featuring St. Augustine, on loan from Lisbon.

 

Apparently, Augustine revered his Mother, for she prayed-incessantly for his Conversion-to-Christianity.

 

As a Result, Images of Santa Monica have to be prominently-displayed in all Augustinian-Churches.

 

Frick Curators have titled this handsome-exhibition in the Oval-Room: Piero Della Francesca in America.

 

Obviously, as he was born in 1412—in the Tuscan-Town of Borgo-San-SepolcroPiero could never have made the Journey-to-Manhattan on-his-own…

 

It remained for Knowledgeable-&-Affluent American-Collectors like Henry Clay Frick to see the Genius of this Early-Renaissance-Artist.

 

Although Piero was highly-regarded in his own time, the fact that a number of his most Definitive-Works were painted for Small-Towns like Burgo—even today, off the Beaten-Tourist-Track—contributed to his being almost forgotten.

 

Indeed, even some of those Italian-Towns that had originally commissioned Piero-Altarpieces, over time, tired of his Astonishing-Images, dismantling these Treasures.

 

Even cutting one of his Iconic-Images down to fit a smaller-frame…

 

In the tall Altarpiece-Panel of St. Augustine—on-loan from Lisbon’s Museu Nacional de Arte-AntiguaPiero gave Real-Value-for-Money: The Borders of the Saint’s-Robe feature Miniatures of Famous-Religious-Scenes!

 

One Arresting-Panel—also permanently in America, loaned from the Clark-Art-Institute in Williamstown, MA—depicts The Virgin & Child Enthroned with Four-Angels.

 

The Faces of the Angels are curiously impassive, while the BMV’s-Visage is a Study-in-Mystery.

 

On one wall of the Oval-Room, an immense Graphic-Reconstruction of the Borgo Sant’Agostino-Altarpiece shows how & where the Panels on-view fit into Piero’s Overall-Conception.

 

How Piero’s Home-Town came-to-Be & got-its-Name is almost as good a Legend as that of St. Apollonia—who had her Teeth-Knocked-Out by Wicked-Anti-Christian-Persecutors.

 

[Antonia’s Portrait—holding a Tongs, with One of Her Sainted-Teeth in its Vice-like-

Grip—is also on-view at the Frick.]

 

[There are, today, in various Holy-Reliquaries, so many of St. Apollonia’s Teeth on-display—for Veneration by the Faithful—that they could fill Several-Mouths.]

 

Anyway, there were these Two-Italian-Pilgrims who had returned from a Pilgrimage to the Holy-Land, where they had helped-themselves to some Holy-Relics from the Holy-Sepulcher.

 

Stopping in a Tuscan-Woods for an Over-nighter, when they awoke, they saw that their Holy-Relics had flown-up into the Tree-Tops.

 

And so it was that the Burgo-San-Selpulcro was founded!

 

If you want to go there today, to see more of Piero’s Genius, on the Google-Map it’s now known simply as Sansepulcro.—which sounds more like "Without-a-Sepulcher.”

 

 

Trio of New Shows at the Met: Cambodian-Rattan, Plain-or-Fancy, & Southern-Poverty-Photos.

 

Decorative-Arts-Department:

 

From its extensive Decorative-Arts-Archives, Met-Curators have selected various Precious-Objects that either are Elaborately-Decorated or are, in contrast, Elegantly-Simple in Form & Ornament.

 

This compact exhibition is titled Plain or Fancy—which has Pennsylvania-Dutch-Overtones—including some Outstanding-Examples of Jugendstil-Design by the Wiener-Werkstätte.

 

Photography-Department:

 

Quite different are the images of William Eggleston, who gives New-Meaning to the Concept of Southern-Poverty, although most of his photos are titled Untitled.

 

For some reason, Eggleston’s Images are generically-labeled: At War with the Obvious: Photograph by William Eggleston.

 

You may already have seen some of this Suite-of-Photos at MoMA or at the Whitney, such is the potent-pervasiveness of Eggleston’s Color-Saturation, the Obvious-Result of good Darkroom-Manipulation.

 

How about Old-Shoes under a Bed? A Wonder-Bread-Sign out in a Field?

 

Eggleston could be called a Visual-Poet-of-Poverty: Poverty-of-Means, Poverty-of-Spirit…

 

Asian-Arts-Department:

 

Although the Asian-Collections are remote from the Heart of the Met-Museum, the Trek uptown-inside is well worth the Effort, if you are able to see Cambodian-Rattan: The Sculpture of Sopheap Pich.

 

The Immense-Floral-Shapes & Unusual-Forms, woven from thin Rattan-Splints, are Mind-Boggling.

 

To have their Maximum-Visual-Effect, they need to be seen where Light from above can heighten the Shadows they can cast.

 

As currently displayed, this is not really possible. They seem to have been inserted into Intimate-Galleries featuring other Asian-Arts, or simply dumped into a Long-Hallway

 

Sopheap Pich deserves his Own-Gallery-Show!

 

 

Muni-Art-Society Faces New Challenges: After Hurricane-Sandy, Sustainability & Livability.

 

Rapping Benjamin Franklin’s ancient Cane, Vin Cipolla, President of the Municipal-Art-Society—now celebrating its 120th-Anniversary—bought the Annual-Meeting to Order.

 

The Major-Item was the awarding of the Annual-Brendan-Gill-Prize for that Author, Poet, Sculptor, Architect, Musician, Artist, Playwright, Choreographer, or Photographer who had done the most in the past year to Enrich & to Celebrate-New-York-City.

 

This Year’s-Winner was the Noted-Architect Louis Kahn, although he was not around to receive it, having passed-on long before his Outstanding-FDR-Memorial on Roosevelt-Island could finally be constructed. Not without Opposition from some…

 

Our progressive UN-Ambassador William van den Heuvel graciously & loquaciously accepted for Kahn. Brendan Gill’s son, Michael, also expressed his Father’s in-absentia Approbation

 

Having been a Drama-Desk-Colleague of Brendan’s, I was once a Nominator for the Gill-Prize, with my winning-nomination for Architect Hugh Hardy my finest-moment at the Muni-Art-Society.

 

Slides of the Roosevelt-Memorial’s Ribbon-Cutting showed, among Other-Notables, Bill Clinton, Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, Andrew Cuomo, & Mrs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, jr.

 

In the afternoon—preceding the Awards—Brit-Architect Prof. Peter Bishop showed how it took his firm Seven-Long-Years to get Community-Input regarding the Development of the King’s-Cross-Station Area.

 

He was joined on a Panel of Manhattan Movers-&-Shakers to explore Plans for Midtown-Renovations, especially for Penn-Station & Grand-Central-Station.

 

Although the Madison-Square-Garden-Interests intend to remain over America’s Busiest-Rail-Terminal, Muni-Arts Experts believe it should once more relocate. It’s been a very long time since it was actually on Madison-Square.

 

MAS-Mavens give Madison-Square ten years to Clear-the-Tracks: The elegant Neo-Classical-Columned Eight-Avenue-Post-Office has long been waiting to become a Monument to Rail-Friendly Senator  Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

 

How about rethinking Park-Avenue? Moving Pedestrian-Walkways?

 

Behind Grand-Central-Terminal, some of the World’s-Tallest-Buildings could rise: are we ready for that?

 

To check-out what’s up with Midtown-Planning & Muni-Art’s Ideas, click on the Website: <inifo@mas.org>

 

Also, Do-Not-Forget: on 13 June 2013, in the elegant Vanderbilt-Hall of Grand-Central-Terminal, there will be a Black-Tie-Gala for the awarding of the 2013 Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Medal!

 

The Winners are already known: Dr. Judith Rudin, President, & David Rockefeller, jr, Chairman, of the Rockefeller-Foundation!

 

Both Grand-Central & the Rockefeller-Foundation are celebrating One-Hundred-Years

 

 

My Old UC/Berkeley Artist/Designer/Friend, Jay DeFeo, Back at the Whitney!

 

It’s Not True, that story about Jay DeFeo & The Rose

 

Now on-view at the Whitney—which now also owns it—The Rose was once called Deathrose, by its Creator, Jay FeFeo.

 

Jay was so obsessed in creating this Monumental-Rose-Schema that she worked on it from 1958 to 1965—when a Rent-Hike forced her out of her SF-Studio.

 

To remove it, part of her Bay-Window & the Front-Wall had to be cut-out.

 

Although it was nominally a Painting, it finally weighed almost a Ton, built-up by Jay’s exploratory addings & scrapings of paint, so that today it is rather more like an Immense-Relief or a Sculptural-Panel.

 

By the time of its removal—filmed by Bruce Conner, whose 1967 Mini-Documentary is also on-view at the Whitney—Jay had renamed this Iconic-Work as The White Rose.

 

She explained her Name-Change thusly: "Death has kind of a negative connotation…”

 

Because Jay died of Lung-Cancer, some thought that inhaling all those Paint & Paint-Thinner-Fumes over all those years had eventually killed her.

 

If so, it took a long, long time, because she finally Packed-Up-Her-Brushes in 1989, when she was a Tenured-Professor at Mills-College in Oakland.

 

Jay & her husband, Wally Hedrick, were at the Center of a Group of Beats in the Era of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco.

 

They smoked a Lot! When I interviewed the Beat-Poet/Playwright Michael McClure uphill from Haight-Street, he offered me Pineapple-Wedges & a Joint

 

Although I am dazzled by the amazingly bold, striking Canvases on-view at the Whitney in this Jay-DeFeo-Retrospective—not to overlook her Experiments in Photography [closing 2 June 2013]—my favorite Jay-DeFeo-Artwork is a small Dry-point-Etching she gave to me when she designed my Thesis-Production at UC/Berkeley.

 

At that time—about 1949 or so—Jay & her then-partner, David Wool, were infatuated with the fantastic designs of Saul Steinberg, so my Anton Chekhov Boor, looked like Rural-Russia gone mad.

 

Both Jay & David were students in the UC/Art-Department, while I was in the Department-of-Dramatic-Art.

 

They appeared one day, offering to bring our Two-Disciplines together, willing to work with any Apprentice-Director who wanted to take-a-chance…

 

We became Friends, although I now regret I did not keep contact over the years.

 

When The Boor was over, Jay gave me the Etching that she had made when studying with Jacques Schnier.

 

Schnier was, at that time, an important Bay-Area-Sculptor, whose works had been featured at the

Golden-Gate-International-Exhibition on Treasure-Island in 1939.

 

Who now remembers him…

 

In Schnier’s Studio-Class, future Artists were required to try their hands in various Media, so Jay had created this small-scale but fascinating-vision of Abstract-Forms.

 

When Jay had a previous show at the Whitney, I thought there was almost nothing in my Etching that resembled her Later-Works.

 

But this time—seeing so many DeFeos in one-gallery— it’s clear that her Vision was already there.

 

Unfortunately, my Etching is not signed, nor is there a Name on it. But then, Jay did love Titles such as Untitled.

 

A later Jacques-Schnier-Class-Generated DeFeo-Etching baffled me.

 

I couldn’t make-out what it was supposed to Be or Represent.

 

Jay was going to give it to me, but my Questions annoyed her, so she changed her mind.

 

"Glenn! If you have to have a name for this, I call it Desperate-Remedies.”

 

I was even more baffled: "Jay! Remedies for what?”

 

"It’s a Woman in the back of a Berkeley bus who has just been told by her doctor that she has Cancer.”

 

Did Jay DeFeo have Cancer on her mind so many years before she died of it…

 

 

Old-Testament Sings-Aloud: Mendelssohn’s Elijah Electrifies at the Manhattan-School…

 

Felix Mendelssohn was no Georg Friderich Händel, but he nonetheless was able to create two impressive Oratorios.

 

But when was the last time you heard Mendelssohn’s St. Paul?

 

For that matter, Mendelssohn’s powerful Elijah is not programmed all that often.

 

So it was a distinct pleasure to hear the Combined-Forces of the Manhattan-School-of-Music—the MSM-Symphony, Symphonic-Chorus, & Chamber-Choir—perform a Rousing-Rendition of the Extended-Tale of the Defeat of the Doomed-Worshippers of the False-God, Baal, by the Forces-of-Righteousness, rallied by the Prophetic-Rants of Elijah & some Attendant-Angels.

 

The Evil-Queen-Jezebel gets what’s coming-to-her, but Elijah goes off into the Wilderness, to be fed—as Legend would have us believe—by Random-Birds.

 

This Malediction-Spouting-Prophet, of course, has a Gloriously-Flaming-Exit: He is carried-off to Heaven in a Fiery-Chariot, drawn by Flaming-Horses!

 

Although some Free-Thinkers now suggest that many Old-Testament-Accounts are Fables, rather than Oral-History, set-down in Hebraic-Characters, the Story-of-Elijah must be true because—on a recent Jaunt-to-Jordan—I saw the Exact-Spot from which the Chariot took-off to ascend, shedding Sparks all the way, into the Heavens over the Dead Sea!

 

Shortly before that Epiphany, I beheld the Exact-Spot where John-the-Baptist baptized his Cousin, Jesus-of-Nazareth!

 

The Place-Marker must have been correct, for shortly after I photographed the narrow, muddy waters, which are all that remains of the River-Jordan—Israel having siphoned-off most of the Flow far-upstream—a Busload of Arkansas-Evangelicals arrived to have their Pastor douse them in the Brown-Effluvia

 

Unfortunately, Mendelssohn died rather young, both before he could compose another Oratorio—possibly based on Baptism-of-The-Messiah—or hear Jenny Lind perform in Elijah in London,

 

Maestro Kent Tritle didn’t have a Jenny Lind on-hand at MSM, but he was blessed with Soprano Chanäe Curtis, Mezzo-Soprano Helena Brown, Tenor Michael Anderson, & Chad Sonka, as Elijah.

 

The Massed-Forces of the Excellent-Choristers filled the John-Borden-Stage, almost outnumbering the often-aged Audience, who nonetheless applauded with appreciation.

 

The MSM is very fortunate to have Kent Tritle—a Master-Organist: I once followed his footsteps in East-Germany, as he played on Historic-Silbermann-Cathedral-Organs—training its Orchestra & Choir-Students!

 

Not so long ago, Kent conducted wonderful Concerts at St. Ignatius-of-Loyola on Park-Avenue: Sacred-Music in a Sacred-Space…

 

Now, he has transferred his allegiances to the Cathedral of St. John-the-Divine, which espouses the King Henry VIII Improved-Version of Catholicism.

 

 

Ronald Lauder’s "Magnificent-Obsession” with German/Austrian-Expressionism at Neue-Galerie!

 

If Ronald Lauder’s Mother, Estée Lauder, didn’t actually invent Lipsticks & Skin-Conditioners, she certainly knew how to turn Milady’s-Beauty-Aids into a Fortune.

 

That may have helped her Son with his Avid-Art-Collecting, notably his Focus on German & Austrian-Expressionism & Modern-Design, as exemplified by the Wierner-Werkstätte & the Bauhaus.

 

Currently, at the Neue-Galerie—which he & the late Serge Sabarsky established to show their Treasures—some outstanding Expressionist-Paintings from the Permanent-Collection are dazzling visitors with their Bold, even garish, Colors.

 

For Your Roving Arts-Reporter, many of these now-priceless Canvases are like Old-Friends, but some of the most Striking-Images must have been hiding down in the Basement: They are both Vibrant & Depressing, by turns.

 

Just inside the Initial-Gallery, however, I was struck by a View of Murnau, which—although the Colors & Contours of the Houses were muted—I instantly recognized as the small Bavarian-Town where I once taught English-Comp to Officers-&-Soldiers of the American-Occupation-Army.

 

At first, I thought that this must be Murnau as seen by its almost Most-Famous Modern-Artist, Gabriele Münter.

 

But No! The Painter was none other than Vasily Kandinsky, who was Münter’s Live-In-Fellow-Painter & Lover!

 

When I first came to teach in Murnau, a Local told me that I should go over to the "Rus-Haus,” which had earned its Local-Name from the Presence of that Russian-Fellow

 

Gabriele Münter had left her handsome home—complete with a Carved & Painted Wooden-Staircase, made by Kandinsky—to her Old-Housekeeper, for her Lifetime.

 

Both because I was not only a Professor-Doktor, but also because I knew who both Münter & Kandinsky were & what they had created, she was glad to welcome me on several occasions, when I photographed not only the Staircase, but also Münter’s own Decorative-Touches.

 

It did not hurt that my UC/Berkeley-German now sounded distinctly Bavarian, not Hoch-Deutsch

 

The charming Kandinsky & Münter paintings on-view have been loaned by none other than Estée Lauder, from her Own-Collection!

 

[I first became really conscious of Mme. Lauder’s generosity when I would see—on top of our Co-op-Mailbox, from time to time—handsomely-wrapped Packages from Estée Lauder to Bess Myerson, who lived high-up above me, though we were both across from the Frick…

 

[Did Bess—our Iconic-Miss-America & later NYC-Cultural-Commissioner—really need Beauty-Products?]

 

Among the Famous-Names in German/Austrian Pre-&-Post-War [WWI, that is, followed by the Weimar-Republic] Expressionism now on-view are such Greats as Max Beckman, Herman Max Pechstein, Lovis Corinth, Otto Dix, Erich Heckel, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, August Macke, Franz Marc—with his colorful Blue-Rider-Horses, & Karl Schmidt-Rottluff.

 

There is also a Suite of striking Paul-Klee-Images.

 

The bitterly satirical Weimar-Images of Georg Grosz are offset by one Quasi-Cubist-Engraving by Grosz, quite different from his usually Savage-Line.

 

A Bonus is the Gift to the Permanent-Collection of an admirable range of Wienerwerkstätte & Bauhaus-inflected Furniture & Furnishings, included charming Jugendstil Ceramics, Glassware, & Silver.

 

Harry C. Sigman has, over the years, collected works of such outstanding Design-Talents as Peter Behrens, Kolo Moser, Josef Hoffmann, Marianne Brandt, Otto Eckmann Henry van de Velde, & Joseph Maria Olbrich—who gave Vienna the "Golden-Cabbage,” an Art-Nouveau-inflected home for Secession.

 

An admirable-addition to the Neue-Galerie’s already-fascinating Collections!

 

           

A. R. "Pete” Gurney’sTHE OLD BOY  [****]

 

Elite-Private-School Then & Now: Making Boys into Men Doesn’t Always Work…

           

Pity poor Perry!

 

His Hard-as-Nails Super-rich-Mother Harriet [the excellent Laura Esterman] is determined that he will grow-up to be a Real-Man, a Winner, unlike his Discarded-Father.

 

When Perry arrives at the Exclusive-Private-Boarding-School—somewhere in New-England—it’s the Duty of The-Old-Boy, a Class ahead of Perry, to Take-him-in-Hand & Show-him-the-Ropes.

 

AR Gurney wrote this Prep-School-Lament over Twenty-Years-Ago, so—even with his recent Re-Thinkings—it still seems like a Ghost-from-the-WASP-Past.

 

"Pete” Gurney has long been regarded as the Definitive-Chronicler of WASP-Values & Hang-Ups, especially around Buffalo, in Upstate-New-York.

 

His Revised-Drama—set in a time when Dying-of-AIDS was an Almost-Unmentionable-Subject—shows Perry & his Secret-Crush Old-Boy as Students, but that is framed by the Old-Boy’s Impending-Campaign for Governor, moving back & forth.

 

Will he Spoil-his-Chances at the School-Commencement by revealing that Perry not only had AIDS, but also effectively Committed-Suicide?

 

Poor Perry!

 

Although he was Good-at-Tennis, he really didn’t care for Sports at all, preferring to listen to Opera on the Radio: Always a Bad-Sign with Boys among Would-be-Men…

 

As a Country-Lad who attended a Rural-One-Room-School & went-on to a Small-Town-High-School, the Problems of Elitist-East-Coast-Teens have always had little fascination for me.

 

Nonetheless, Tom Riis Farrell, Cary Donaldson, Peter Rini, Chris Dwan—a tormented Perry, & Marsha Dietlein Bennett—under Jonathan Silverstein’s deft-direction—were Thoroughly-in-Character, in Steven C. Kemp’s properly-fusty Guest-Suite, oppressed by Portraits of Former-School-Heads.

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