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Expect to be delighted and outraged by our incisive and sprawling coverage of culture and arts.

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    Young Nigerian creatives are carving out an entirely new space in the art world


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    Ifedoyin Shotunde


    Lagos has experienced an artistic explosion over the last 5 years, with a new school of thought and expression overtaking the city. Those behind it emerge from the same soil that birthed Fela Kuti and inspired the voice of Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka.

    As this artistic revolution gains traction, entrepreneurs have begun to capitalize on opportunities to showcase the creative talent. The response has been massive, with ventures such as the Arthouse Foundation, Nigeria's premier auction house and artist residency, seeing annual sales of up to $1.4 Million USD.

    Nigerian-made art has a rich history dating back to 1000 BC. It was motivated by religious devotion, and driven by the skill of various artisans who produced sculptures and wooden carvings. One of most prominent of these ancient eras is Nok art, famous terracotta sculptures most often depicting men in a warrior or kneeling stance. Art of these times was either functional or religious.

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    Nok Sculpture


    In the late colonial era, a crop of Nigerian artists known as the "Zaria Rebels" gave definition to the practice of meshing ancient indigenous art such as Nok with contemporary religious design and western technique.

    This became known as "natural synthesis." The group consisted of Nigeria's most influential 20th century artists including Uche Okeke, Yusuf Grillo and Bruce Onobrakpeya. The Zaria Rebels chose a deliberately subversive collective identity to challenge their westernized education in fine arts.

    As Bruce Onobrakpeya later explained:
    ... We thought that the idea of just using the western art technique without relating it to our culture wasn't right.


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    Bruce Onobrakpeya


    Today, a new crop of young Nigerian artists band together, similar to the Zaria Art Rebels, but with a new objective; to challenge the status quo of the rapidly expanding Nigerian art establishment. They call themselves the "F--- Art Collective" and they seek to disrupt what they perceive as the restrictive dialogue of Lagos's galleries and auction houses.

    What is striking about this new kind of Nigerian artist is a clear break in the way they conceptualize their works. In order to bridge the gap between indigenous and modern art, the Zaria Rebels sought to synthesize African forms with western techniques. However, for the F. A. Collective, Africanism is not on the agenda.

    What this group are interested in is free and authentic self-expression.

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    Olatunde Alara


    Though their choice of name may seem like a contradiction, the artists in this collective refuse to shy away from it. They insist that their objective is not to dismiss the pursuit of art but rather to express their feeling of disassociation from the more formal artistic community in Nigeria.

    This passionate group of three: Ifedoyin Shotunde, Olatunde Alara and Dricky Stickman, will present their first group exhibition at the boutique residence and creative collaboration space, 16/16.

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    Ifedoyin Shotunde


    16/16 owner and artistic director, Tushar Hathiramani, sees the venue as a melting pot for a new crop of creatives and thinkers in Nigeria. Likening the artistic explosion taking place in the city to the Harlem Renaissance and the Detroit techno movement, he believes that the slowdown in the Nigerian economy will create an availability of free and affordable spaces for creative expression to thrive.

    The exhibition will take place on the 30th of December 2016 and lasts for two-weeks. Keep updated with Ingressive for future art experiences in Lagos.

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    Dricky Stickman

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    Get over it already. They're not your friends or your family. They're not real heroes. Norman Schwarzkopf died and where were your tears?! You cry for the celebutantes but you don't care about the people who actually risk their lives for your freedom!

    So why do you do it? Why do you mourn and care so deeply for people you don't know? For starters, because you do know them. You know them because they let you into their innermost thoughts, dreams, fears, loves, and humanity. You watch them on TV, you read their books, admire their paintings, listen to their music, and you sit in a dark theater and share the exact same emotion at the exact same time with hundreds of perfect strangers sitting all around you. Why? Because for those two hours, the person on that screen is you. That's the magic of why it works.

    There is something unifying about the way we share in an artist's work. It's something we clearly need, or we wouldn't be drawn to it. And it's not this "Era of the Famous" that's so different. We've been like this for generation after generation. We look out into the abyss and it's not the abyss that stares back, it's a version of ourselves as shown to us by our greatest artists.

    Off-screen they're often just as vital. Many people suffering from mental illness saw inspiration in Carrie Fisher's candor about her own struggles. A generation of kids struggling with their own identity found a friend in George Michael's public declaration of freedom to declare his own. Countless precious misfits and wonderfully odd teenagers sought comfort in David Bowie and Prince proudly waving their own freak flag high. Each of these people told the world that you can be anyone you want. Most importantly, they told us we can be exactly who we are.

    Harper Lee told us that we will never really understand a person until we climb inside their skin and walk around in it and Gene Wilder and Alan Rickman let us use theirs for a while. Glenn Frey told us to find a place to make our stand and Muhammed Ali taught us to fight with all our heart. Garry Marshall helped us laugh along the way and Debbie Reynolds made sure we also remembered to dance. Garry Shandling reminded us that nice guys finish first and if you don't know that, you don't know where the finish line is. And from your lips, Leonard Cohen drew a Hallelujah.

    There are heroes who make sure we survive and there are those who remind us what we're surviving for. Celebrate both in equal measure, because without one the other is irrelevant.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    Agnes Martin remains on view at New York's Guggenheim Museum through January 11, 2017. See the museum website for details and location.

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    Installation View: Agnes Martin, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 7, 2016- January 11, 2017. Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation





    It isn't enough to say that Agnes Martin crafted what may be the perfect minimalist paintings. Rather, we do her life and work a far greater justice by acknowledging that in her own complex yet elegantly psycho-therapeutic solution to grappling with schizophrenia, Agnes Martin imposed on her life and art an obsessional ritual program of mapping successive pathways to renewed sanity and persistent order in her life. Schizophrenia and obsession were the treacherous Scylla and Charybdis that life forced Martin to circumnavigate. And she ultimately managed not only to find her way through the twin dangers, she did it by converting her personal and plaguing disconnection with space and discontinuity with time into a structural mapping of the most elegant and minimally-contained mannerist art likely ever produced.

    I only partially mean mapping as a charting and identification of space. For Martin it is a mapping of the mind (or the painted mind) that secures personal and social connectivity and continuity -- the very things that schizophrenia would deny her through its severely-imposed disconnection and discontinuity. "Mapping" is a concept that comes from R.D. Laing's theory of the territorial claim on social roles that compel people to adopt lifestyles that might or might not fit them. It's a mapping of lifestyles that comes with considerable social pressures, in terms of the mapping of individual vs. collective expectations -- one mapped over the other. But Martin was quite literal in her interpretation of theories, in her work, mapping becomes a meticulous and exacting physical labor that enables her to counter the disconnection of schizophrenia, while embracing the safety of obsessive compulsion -- all with the meshes of the grid. In her own complex yet elegantly psycho-therapeutic solution to grappling with schizophrenia, Agnes Martin imposed on her life and art the structure and motif of the grid as an infinite and eternal if obsessional ritual program of mapping successive pathways to recovered and renewed sanity and persistent order in her life.

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    Agnes Martin
    Gratitude, 2001. Acrylic and graphite on canvas, 152.4 x 152.4 cm. Glimcher Family Collection © 2015 Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York





    While Martin was alive there was no public mention of the artist's diagnosis, though we are told that most of her friends and acquaintances knew. I first discovered her work as an undergraduate in the mid 1970s and soon after encountered her work in several New York shows and read numerous reviews throughout the 1980s and 1990s, when her acclaim was becoming a kind of apotheosis in the artworld after long years of her marginalization. I remember no mention of a disorder or affliction of any kind in all my discussions with artists and art professionals about her. There certainly was no telltale sign of the disease in her paintings, what counts among the most disciplined and rigorously programmatic work in the history of Modern Art. Only with the release of two seminal books on the artist and her work in the past two years did the public come to know of the extent of Martin's malady. The first of these books, Agnes Martin, is the exhibition catalogue that has been shared by Tate Modern, London, The Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and The Guggenheim Museum in New York and was written by several curators and critics. The second, and the more intimately revealing biographically, is Agnes Martin: Her Life and Art, by Art In America critic, Nancy Princenthal. Published in 2016 by Thames and Hudson, the book recently won the 2016 PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography. Both books confirm the rumors that began to circulate since Martin's death in 2004.

    Princenthal has voiced opposition to considering schizophrenia as having much to do with Martin's work. Yet her choice of words leaves room for doubt. In an interview with Carolina A, Miranda of The Los Angeles Times, Princenthal relayed that Martin made it clear that she believed her illness had nothing to do with her work.

    It is understandable that Martin would believe this. It is also admirable that the people who continue to care about the artist's reputation these twelve years after her death would guard against it being diminished by a mental disorder. But such sentiments, despite their good intentions, don't help society to overcome the stigma of Schizophrenia even for those who, like Martin, succeeded in building a reputation for possessing a formidable artistic insight and commitment. It is also hard to imagine an analyst accepting the defensive stance that Princenthal and other of Martin's champions assume or relay in discounting the influence of the disease. The fact is that Martin covered for her disease successfully enough for us to want to continue doing it for her by airing her discovery that working in the studio on a regiment of continual, seemingly ceaseless, variations on grid was, in addition to her medication, a liberation from her disease.

    It is my personal view that Martin did even more: that it was not just in spite of the disease, but likely because of it that she made great art -- without implying that Martin would not have been a great artist had she not contracted the disease. Yet the circumstance of her disease no less impelled Martin to compose her own unique if compulsive-obsessive ritual of mapping a linear and chromatic grid that stands in for the unity missing from Martin's life. We know the utility of the grid helped Martin to further alleviated the duress of her medically and personally managed schizophrenia enough to continue it to the age of 92.

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    Installation View: Agnes Martin, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 7, 2016- January 11, 2017 Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation





    What makes Martin's triumph even more formidable is that, as she was entering into the last decade of her life and work, neuroscience was confirming that schizophrenia wasn't just a psychological and cognitive disorder, but a physical disorder of the brain. In a study conducted and published in 1995 with the article, "Schizophrenia: A Disconnection Syndrome?", the neuroresearchers Karl J. Friston and Christopher D. Frith published in Clinical Neuroscience their conclusion that "some schizophrenic phenomena are best understood in terms of abnormal interactions between different areas", not only at the levels of cognitive and sensorimotor functioning, as plagued Martin, but "at the level of physiology and functional anatomy".





    The evidence is significant because it frees the schizophrenic from the popular view that somehow the individual is responsible for bringing on the disease herself. Or in the case of a famous artist, that she would have heightened and romanticized, perhaps even exaggerated her schizophrenia as an asset to her career. (I know of no one who knew Martin that thought this about her, but it is the kind of malicious fictions that celebrated figures attract.)

    At the same time, the establishment of a physical cause for schizophrenia emphasizes that it is a disease that becomes a part of who the individual is to the extent that every action either becomes a struggle with or a victory over the disease each and every day. As life even for the well supplies an ample array of adversity that defines or denies the strength of individuals, so does schizophrenia supply or deprive the individual according to the many circumstances particular to that life. The limitations imposed on Martin would suggest their own counter measures which she would apply in her own uniquely brilliant way. Ultimately, Princenthal admits that she thinks the Schizophrenia did affect Martin's work positively and negatively. "She had a number of psychotic breaks. She did hear voices -- she had aural hallucinations -- and she was subject to them throughout her life. She took medications. She undertook talk therapy. These were constraints."

    Without further disclosures, we can only surmise by her success and artistry that for Martin, drawing horizontal and vertical lines, whether in grids or stripes, would be sanity-saving exercises that imposed the order and discipline required to achieve the longevity to make an unparalleled body of minimalist art. Similarly, while progressing from one chromatic value to the next, or when working in monochromes, from one shade and density to the next, Martin not only imposed a discipline onto her daily routine, she also, in reinforcement of her medications, mapped a continuity onto her habits that offset whatever inclination she might have to lose a sense of her own thoughts, speech, ability.

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    Agnes Martin, White Flower, 1960, Oil on canvas, 182.6 x 182.9 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Gift of Lenore Tawney, 1963 © 2015 Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York





    For a mind and body plagued by a disorder that imposes severe fragmentation and continual renewal on each and every one or the habits and endeavors of everyday life, turning to a structural repetition ritual was a solace and a support for Martin. In this way, Martin did learn to make the best of her schizophrenia and her obsessive compulsion for repetition. It was the only acceptable choice. For by the late 1970s, making stylistically breaks from the serial programming of her earlier work was being encouraged by the informed art society to which she belonged. But breaks from routines are what the schizophrenic fears, as the kind of breaks in temporal continuity and spacial connectivity that schizophrenia imposes also brings fear and confusion, and for the severe schizophrenic, hallucinations. Ultimately Martin would find that the breaks in her art from one work to the next could be contained with the motif of the grid to provide a foundation to build from -- however immanently subject to dissolution that foundation might in the end prove. In Martin's case, the foundation, the grid, for her work never dissolved. And we may attribute that to the positively-obsessive ritual of mapping space with grids that supply connectivity to compensate for a disease of disconnection.

    Each painting was a mending of the breaks and tears in her vision; a memorial to the ruptures of continuity in time. On good days the paintings became meshes of reality. In making paintings so obsessively dominated by parallel lines or grids, we can be sure that Martin likely experienced them far differently than we do when viewing them, for feeling them emerging in her nervous system. If we wish to attempt to see them as Martin did, we might try to experience them as unified compositions, planar maps composed of myriad separate domains. Her schizophrenia accounts for why Martin chose not to represent gestalt visualizations that her minimalist colleagues did (Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Robert Morris, Jo Baer) -- that is, to produce paintings or sculptures that we can summon to our mind's eye because they are simple geometric unities -- triangles, circles, rectangles -- or are seamless, illusionistically-drawn, painted or sculptural volumes -- cones, pyramids, cubes, spheres. Instead, Martin ritually painted broken up surfaces that from a distance look to be solid and unified planar fields, but upon close inspection reveal themselves as meticulously, truly compulsively-ordered, drawn and painted, programmatically-interrupted fields with rows and columns textured over with finely-brushed washes of muted color that upon close examination reveal shimmering yet minute brush strokes.

    The difference may be simple to the well-ordered mind, but to the individual plagued by schizophrenia, even when successfully readjusted by a regiment of medication and therapies as have been relayed to us, such obsessively-mapped compositions even in their imposed order are symbolic of a sustained victory over the forces of disconnection and disunity perpetually and imminently threatening a reign of chaos on all that Martin rigorously strove to bring into being.


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    Agnes Martin, Untitled #5, 1998, Acrylic paint and graphite on canvas, 152.4 x 152.4 cm. Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. Acquired with assistance from the Gesellschaft der Freunde, numerous artists and art dealers and with special support from the guests of the dinner of 3 December 2011 © 2015 Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York





    This is why it isn't enough for us to say that Agnes Martin had no equal in terms of composing shimmering formalist constructions of interstitial intricacy with a faithful commitment to execution to her personal visions. In this second decade after her death, Martin's triumph as an artist who struggled with schizophrenia should be a bold declaration that forever banishes the hushed apologies, denials and silences of her peers during her lifetime, even when it was respectful rather than shameful.

    Shrinking from acknowledging Martin's disease is tantamount to believing the disorder became her master. It did not, however much it threatened to at various times throughout her life. In fact it is the exact opposite. Martin, though fighting a battle with schizophrenia for most of her adult life, became the master of her disease, however tentatively and with however many disruptions, to the extent that, despite that it continued to make Martin suffer, she was able to continually convert her struggle with discontinuity, disconnection and disruption with a counteractive, daily, and programmatic exercise raised to artistic creation. It may not be a proof, but the fact that Martin lived to be 92 is indication that her art is at least one reason why she did not suffer the demise of so many schizophrenics, especially women, given that the suicide rate for women with schizophrenia is alarmingly high.

    For a lesser artist, schizophrenia could have been a breakdown of the relationship between the artist and her art; between the signifiers she is to inscribe and the faculty that inscribes them. Whether the lines and hues she mapped out on canvas or paper were to be perceived as material objects, diagrammatic representations or a visual language of communication, the schizophrenic impetus would not allow the work, especially in the early phases of the disease, to proceed as a simple temporal flow of visual data or language as it would for the well individual. Rather it would impose a barrage of discontinuity and disconnections, whereby all forms of articulation and interpretation, linguistic, visual, symbolic, are severely impaired; for even the most simple sentence thought silently to oneself must move through time. The language effects of schizophrenia include the breakdown of all memories of the past, perceptions of the present, and inferences for the future. While medications may restore the brain's synapses, daily discipline also has to gradually increase to ensure the body's facility to maintain and sustain the skills that had been built up when she was young and well (or at least more capable). would have to be rebuilt and redirected for new paths of capability, if not growing them into altogether new skills.

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    Agnes Martin, Detail of Untitled #5, (see complete painting directly above) 1998, Acrylic paint and graphite on canvas, 152.4 x 152.4 cm. Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf. Acquired with assistance from the Gesellschaft der Freunde, numerous artists and art dealers and with special support from the guests of the dinner of 3 December 2011© 2015 Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York





    From what we are now being told, Martin's regimen was exercised from the late 1960s up to her death in 2004. It is news that reassures that Martin had succeeded in besting her disease despite its ever presence. Martin's bouts of schizophrenia may in fact have compelled her to resort to a ritual, or even an obsession, with repetitively replicating the grid in compositional structures signifying varying levels of tension and relaxation. In fact the schizophrenia would have made the compulsively repetitive and assured formula of the grid a comforting and structural assurance in the face of a life that faced complete break down of continuity. For the schizophrenic, maintaining a continuous present is necessary for retaining a self-identity, and for sustaining basic linguistic formulation and meaning.

    Even for an artist who is well adjusted, the minimalist endgame paradoxically supplies a potentially endless continuation and repetition of variations on a grid that would not merely relieve tedium with the format but energize it. Certainly for the lover of minimalist composition, while scaling the Guggenheim's ramp upward Martin's compositions echo the inlets and niches of Wright's rising compartments and niches. And really,Wright's white spiral never seemed better reinforced by the desert art it contained, what with the architect and the painter sharing minimalist parallelism, and eons-old metaphorical contrasts and complements (Wright's seashell spiral, Martin's desert mindscapes) that collaboratively and thrillingly inferred an invisible continuity and repetition to infinity. That Martin had brilliantly mapped her work with architectural surroundings in mind never seemed more assured. Simultaneously, the message of both the museum and the art suggested all the discontinuity and disorder in the world could not disrupt this union of artist and architect. The apotheosis came with the final painting of Martin's life, placed perfectly at the end of Wright's spiral, and it was as exhilarating as it suggested perfection.

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    Agnes Martin, Little Sister, 1962, Oil, ink, and brass nails on canvas and wood sheet, 25.1 x 24.2 cm. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Gift, Andrew Powie Fuller and Geraldine Spreckels Fuller Collection 2000.40 © 2015 Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York





    Standing before Martin's last painting compelled me to wonder about Martin's personal testimony to having precise visions of the work before she is about to execute it. Visions, of course, are the curse of the schizophrenic. But they also have been mythically considered the mystic's claim to salvation -- the "all the way to heaven is heaven" ticket of which Catherine of Siena spoke. But Martin's visions, she herself tells us, were of her works she was yet to make, and made. As if flashes of her future visited her. It is no doubt the unique condition of Martin's schizophrenia that each vision of her work came to her, as she states in one of the films playing on the Guggenheim ramp, in the size of a postage stamp. Martin then made it her responsibility to recreate that vision iconically on paper or canvas as precisely as was within her power.

    Given that in a secular age a culture's most illuminating mystics are found among its artists and poets, we should not be surprised to learn that the mystics of ages past were prone to having distinct and vivid visions in manners consistent with schizophrenia. If it seems strange that a present day "mystic" (Martin would probably disdain the term being applied to her) would be so inclined to visions of a stationary and formal import, we might consider that the abstract Tantric art of Rajasthan made between the 5th-to-17th centuries appears very much like certain 20th-century paintings based on planar geometry. For much like Martin's signature art, the Tantric art of geometric abstraction is particularly well suited to launching and sustaining the ritual practice of meditation and mental liberation.

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    Agnes Martin, Untitled #15, 1988 Acrylic paint and graphite on canvas, 182.9 x 182.9 cm. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Gift of The American Art Foundation in honor of Charlotte and Irving Rabb, 1997 © 2015 Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York





    In reflecting on the history of schizophrenia and obsession as a topics, themes and impetus in the last century-and-a-half in art, it is altogether ironic that though the issues and theories of schizophrenia would become a sometimes obsessional motivation for much of the significant art made under the banner of Modernism, we still shy away from openly discussing the effects schizophrenia has on the art made by artists afflicted. Considering the major contributions of schizophrenia and obsession in the modernist cannon of art history enable us to appreciate both how schizophrenia theoretically informed many of the artists Martin knew personally and likely contributed to the niche she found for herself in art history at the same time that her life mirrored, if not embodied, much of that history.

    Of all the literature available on mental health, it is R.D. Laing's devastating criticism of the social and institutional malevolence toward schizophrenics, and his call more personalized care, that Martin appears to emulate. In fact, it can be said that Martin's life and art serve as a paradigm for all the best that Laing predicted a schizophrenic could achieve outside of the institutionalized setting that once lobotomized, imprisoned and shock-induced patients with mental disorders. But despite the divide between therapeutics and aesthetics, all of the giants of classical psychological theory -- Freud, Jung, Lacan, Klein -- still have much to contribute to the art historical review of the art made under their once fashionable influence. That includes controversial speculations that are of greater facility to the artist and critic of formal and iconographic visual systems of art, symbolism and myth, than to medical, therapeutic and analytic professionals.

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    Agnes Martin, Untitled #2, 1992, Acrylic and graphite on canvas, 72 x 72 inches (182.9 x 182.9 cm) Private collection © 2015 Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York





    After Picasso and Braque found inspiration for Cubism in the simultaneous, multiple perspectives of schizophrenics cited in early literature on schizophrenically-disconnected visualization, the Dada and Surrealist artists found Freud's theories of psychosis equally useful in terms of applying his notions of the fetish and the uncanny to their crafting a revolutionary new visual and conceptual art. The Surrealists particularly admired Freud when he described the circumstances whereby people of moral conscience find themselves awakening to desires that they know should be suppressed in accordance with the moral authorities of their period's social enclaves. Freud also proposes that even the most conscientious people unconsciously yet willingly channel forbidden desires into fetishistic (that is protective and disguised) condensations of psycho-somatic energy. The more superstitious and fearful (those often of a religious caste) perceive the fetish to be their desire's effacement in accordance with the presiding authority or faith.

    The Surrealist in particular championed Freud for revealing that we unconsciously protect our forbidden desire for random and impersonal genitalia by transferring that desire to objects that can pass inspection with the moral authorities of the day -- the fetishistic hat whose folds secretly arouse memory of and desire for the furtive vulva; the cigar whose heft fills the void and yearning for the real but absent penis. Although not schizophrenic in themselves, the fetish and the uncanny become full-scale delusions in schizophrenia. In the world of contemporary art, however, what seems delusional in the everyday world becomes a marketable commodity in the high-financed world of the secondary and auction market for art, as witness the success of such artists as Robert Gober and Louise Bourgeois, both of whom extensively fetishize their art.

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    Agnes Martin, Untitled, 1960, Ink and graphite on paper, 21.6 x 21.6 cm. Courtesy The Elkon Gallery, New York © 2015 Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York





    More applicable to Martin's art and schizophrenia is the development of the collective unconscious by Carl Jung, given that the grid that Martin favored above all else is a structure of the unconscious order. It may be a prominent graduate thesis that one day demonstrates how the grid in Martin's paintings is the visual and formal equivalent of Jung's collective unconscious. As any animator or 3D artist can today attest, just as all conceptual contents proceed from the collective unconscious, all visual, formal variants proceed from the collective grid, or what is today called vector graphics in digital visualization effects and animations. Similarly, the interpretation of these visualizations proceed as new formulations of very ancient archetypes -- images and objects initially dreamed up by the unconscious mind, and that through Jung's investigation of the visions and voices that plagued his schizophrenic patients, came to inform us today of why we so readily appreciate the same motifs, however moderately evolved, as did our Paleolithic and Neolithic ancestors. Which is why Jung had such a strong impact on the earliest Abstract Expressionists with whom Martin identified herself even more than with the Minimalists. We communicate with, and perpetuate our languages and arts through the inventions of our ancient ancestors by modernizing their motifs for new generations.

    Although the Surrealist's eroticization of schizophrenia seems not to have impressed upon Martin's work, it certainly did on the mature Baziotes and the early Pollock, Krasner, Gorky, Rothko and Gottlieb. All of these artists grew out of Surrealist explorations of schizophrenia, particularly the automatism that inspired the theories of Andre Breton and Georges Bataille for presuming to lead more directly to the unconscious than planned out and theorized art. It was a generation that imparted to Martin the understanding that the immediacy of associative symbolism is more directly reflective of the unconscious than are planned and studied sketches. Jung's comparison of the schizophrenic mind when awake to the dream states of the healthy also introduced the notion that the collapse of identity in the schizophrenic disconnection is also similar to the fluidity of identity in dreams. Such free association of personas in dream states led Jung to proclaim that all characters in dreams represent facets of the dreaming self. Hence a fluid or associative identity assumption became a technique found amply in the works of such artists as Frida Kahlo and Francisco Clemente, in which the self-portrait is grafted onto rival characters, even animals.

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    Installation View: Agnes Martin, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 7, 2016- January 11, 2017. Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation





    A decidedly postmodern generation that ascended with Pop Art montaged together disparate, seemingly unrelated image vocabularies championed by Frederic Jameson as publicly modeling the schizophrenic who does not have our experience of temporal continuity, but is condemned to live a perpetual present. In such a present none of the individual moments or experiences in a life have any connection other than streaming by like a barrage of media sounding and showing off without its contents truly being seen or heard. The Conceptual Art and Performance Art movements of the late 1960s and 1970s made much about obsession, compulsion, and break downs, particularly such artists as Vito Acconci, Chris Burden, Ana Mendieta and Dennis Oppenheim, and in the 1980s, Karen Finley, Kiki Smith and Sue Williams. Upon acquainting ourselves with the extensive correspondence between theory and art, it seems preposterous to perennially cite the mimicry of schizophrenia by non-schizophrenic artists and then step around the true schizophrenic experiences of Agnes Martin out of respectful deference or cynical renumeration. But if none of the theorists so far mentioned apply to Martin's art (and they don't in any way substantially) we find ourselves asking, whose theory does?

    I believe that author is R.D. Laing, who no one concerned with Schizophrenia in the 1960s and 1970s did not know well. In "The Politics of the Family" (1969), Laing describes his notion of ritual 'mapping', which both well people and sick people largely unconsciously do, but do differently. In brief, Laing writes "A person 'maps' some accepted social definition of reality onto his or her experience and then acts as if that map reflects his or her experience. Or else feels terribly oppressed and unseen, if the personal experience is very different from the 'mapped' pseudo-experience."

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    Agnes Martin, Untitled, 2004, Acrylic on canvas, 152.4 x 152.4 cm. Collection of Mitzi and Warren Eisenberg © 2015 Agnes Martin/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York





    Laing wasn't referring to a visual mapping. It was a mental and social, really a habitual, mapping of concepts and experiences that were regarded normal within a culture, yet are actually obsessively retentive and often undesirable, even detested. "Call experiential structure A, and public event B. Sometimes the product of A and B, in a marriage ceremony, is a marriage. Both people are married in all senses at once. . . One function of ritual is to map A onto B at critical moments, for example births, marriage, deaths. In our society many of the old rituals have lost much of their power. New ones have not arisen.... To preserve convention, there is a general collusion to disavow A when A and B do not match. Anyone breaking this rule is liable to invalidation. One is not supposed to feel married if one has not been married. Conversely, one is supposed to feel married if one 'is.' If one goes through a marriage ceremony, and does not feel it is 'real', if it did not 'take', there are friends and relatives to say: 'Don't worry, I felt the same, my dear. Wait until you have a child. . . Then you will feel you are a mother,' and so on. . . . So one feels, perhaps, frightened or guilty, and probably wishes to disavow A; to take refuge in B, where everything is as everyone says."

    From such a notion of social mapping, it seems perfectly reasonable that a visual artist faced with schizophrenia, and especially a visual artist who was a lesbian who sought a ritual mapping of human connection that is unlike a ritual mapping of heterosexual marriage, would turn to the idea of ritual mapping as something that provides comfort and control that she lacks over life yet which she finds in a ritually-repeated routine. That ritual routine for Martin proved to be a ritual visual mapping with lines and shadings conducive to making a visual map. And what better map would be available to a person who struggles to maintain continuity and connection than the structural guide of the map, that ultimate symbol and program of connection and continuity -- the grid. The obsessionally-repeated ritual of mapping a grid to a person who has structural difficulty in maintaining ritual proved to be Martin's epiphanic moment and process. Martin's ritual of charting out the map of the grid over and over until continuity and connection becomes so habitual, so indoctrinated in the muscles of the hands and arms, so engrained in the retinas and pupils of the eyes, so emblazoned upon the mind, even the mind of the schizophrenic she was. What better mapping, year after year, decade after decade, could better anchor the schizophrenic artist, especially an artist also inclined to obsessive-compulsive repetition, than the daily mapping of the grid?

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    Installation View: Agnes Martin, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, October 7, 2016- January 11, 2017
    Photo: David Heald © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation




    Listen to G. Roger Denson interviewed by Brainard Carey on Yale University Radio.

    Read other posts by G. Roger Denson on Huffington Post in the archive.

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    America? America! Our Country Through Music
    By Eden MacAdam-Somer


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    Photo By Andrew Hurlbut

    The morning after our recent presidential election, I gathered with students and colleagues in New England Conservatory's Department of Contemporary Improvisation for a production meeting. We had a concert coming up in less than a week, and we needed to finalize some staging details...except that none of us was able to focus on music at the moment.

    New England Conservatory has an enrollment of 750 graduate and undergraduate college students from 46 states and 39 countries. In the CI department, our 80 or so students and faculty hail from different parts of the US, Canada, Central & South America, Turkey, Israel, Syria, Korea, China, Japan, India, Germany, Iran, and Armenia, with backgrounds in jazz, rock, classical, free improvisation, and folk genres. We are composers, performers, improvisers, singers, dancers, and instrumentalists. We are a community of individuals with different needs, differing perspectives on the world, and different political affiliations and opinions. And we come together on a daily basis to study, create, discuss, analyze, and hone our practice as artists and musicians.

    The morning after the election the NEC community, just like the rest of America, was experiencing a mix of emotions that badly needed voicing. Most worrisome was the sudden awareness of a rift, perhaps one that had always existed but that had gone unnoticed as we collaborated in our areas of common interest. We were all very much aware of a need to communicate across that rift, to make sure that we could co-exist in spite of our differences. But how best to do that?

    As producer of our fall department concert, I had originally intended to focus on the music of the great American country singer George Jones. But as the summer unfolded, with the increasing surrealism of an incredibly hostile and polarizing election season combined with a rise in vigilante law and random acts of violence, as well as the appalling anniversary of 15 years of war in Afghanistan, I found myself compelled to ask who we really are, the people that make up these United States of America, and what our music might be. In August, I changed the program title to America? America!

    The program was never intended to be about politics. Instead, I wanted us to take a deep look at the music of the United States. Everyone has some defining concept of American music. Depending on one's listening preferences, that might range from Aaron Copland to John Coltrane to Beyoncé to Joni Mitchell or the Foggy Mountain Breakdown. For this project, I asked our students and faculty to bring in their concepts of quintessential American music, to look for the inherent American-ness in it, and, in doing so, to explore issues that have played a role in the development of our national cultural identity. The result provided a fascinating, (though certainly not comprehensive), window into this country's musical self through the perspective of our community.

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    Photo By Andrew Hurlbut

    We ended up with music from traditional southern folk to country, blues, early gospel, R&B, classical works, a factory song representing immigrant communities in Industrial Era New York, pop, and jazz. There were excellent covers of existing works, as well as conceptual performances that dealt with issues of consumerist feminism, musical appropriation, stereotypical perceptions of the Midwest, and the ongoing struggle for racial equality. Particularly striking was a haunting performance of Strange Fruit, performed a cappella on a dimly lit stage, and Survivors Breakfast's rendition of Ballad for Americans, which took the Popular Front era operatic folk cantata, with its dream of "American Exceptionalism and the Melting Pot," to new heights. Each piece could be appreciated in and of itself, or, looking deeper, as a part of a larger portrayal of our entire country, from north to south and east to west.

    In the days between the election and the concert we met several times as a department to discuss how we could best acknowledge the striking changes sweeping the nation. In the end, we decided that our strength in that moment lay in speaking through the music we had prepared, celebrating America in its entirety. It was an incredible night. Talking with audience members afterwards, it was clear that the concert provided much-needed relief after the events of the week. In an audience packed with so many different kinds of people there was a sense of unity, of peace, of gratitude - here, at least, was a space where we could all gather together.

    As artists, we often feel a great weight of responsibility to respond in the face of change. While there is absolutely no doubt that art is a powerful tool for the purposes of protest, equally important is the role of art in bringing people together, communicating across great divides. Protests and rallies are important. Recognizing our weaknesses and our challenges is essential. But it is also important for us to come together in spite of our differences, to listen, to be moved, and to be together as a community. In this way, music can indeed be a powerful catalyst for change, working to bring people together across divisions of fear and misunderstanding.

    Deep as our valleys, high as our mountains, strong as the people who made it.
    For I have always believed it, and I believe it now, and now you know who I am.

    Who are you?

    America! America!

    - John La Touche, Ballad for Americans (1939)


    To listen to the concert, click here.

    About Eden MacAdam-Somer
    Eden MacAdam-Somer is one of the most exciting and versatile young musicians performing today. Hailed by the New York Times as reflecting "astonishing virtuosity and raw expression," her music transcends genre through soaring violin, sweet vocals, and percussive dance, weaving in and out of the many cultures that have formed her experience. Her travels have carried her across the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, to India, Iceland, Israel, and the UK. Eden is a full-time faculty member at New England Conservatory, where she teaches improvisation and serves as Co-Chair of the Department of Contemporary Improvisation. She also makes frequent visits to Kabul, Afghanistan, where she works with young Afghan musicians as guest faculty member at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music and collaborates with local artists. Outside of the classroom, she maintains an active international performance and recording career as a soloist and with such bands as Notorious Folk and the Klezmer Conservatory Band. Her solo album, My First Love Story was listed as one of the top ten jazz albums of 2015 in the Boston Globe, and features live solo performances on voice, violin, and percussive dance. Click here for more information about Eden.

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    My name is Sam Weller. No Samuel, just "Sam," a reverential nod to my paternal grandfather's nickname. But even as I arrived into the world in the midst of the infamous Chicago blizzard of 1967, my parents were acutely aware of the Dickensian origins of my moniker. "Sam Weller" was a wildly popular character in Dickens's first novel, The Pickwick Papers, published in 1837. Prior to the novel, Dickens had published the story as a serialization titled, The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club. Sam Weller appeared in the tenth installment and, because of his wit and humor, his arrival in the story is widely regarded as having brought Dickens widespread acclaim. I often joke that I am grateful that my parents didn't name me for another popular Pickwickian--"Mr. Jingle."

    Because of this literary nomenclatural connection, it is somewhat of a requirement, I suppose, to have at least a passing interest in the Dickens oeuvre. My first exposure came, as it does for so many, through the innumerable cinematic adaptations of A Christmas Carol, airing endlessly on the television screen of my childhood. I had a 13-inch black and white TV in my Southern California bedroom, with a bad antenna that provided snowy reception at best. I recall being distinctly more frightened of Alastair Sim's Ebenezer Scrooge than of the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present or the Spirit Yet to Come. Mean old men are very real to ten-year-old boys, manifesting daily in the form of school principals, balding math teachers, corner grocery store owners and neighbors on the other side of the proverbial 8-foot fence.

    As I grew older, the Dickens story became ever-more captivating, on the screen, then, of course, through reading the original, A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, published in 1843. There are few stories of redemption as fulfilling as the Christmas epiphany of Ebenezer Scrooge.

    Over the years, as a writer, I have written about the stage adaptation of the Dickens classic at Chicago's renowned Goodman Theatre on several occasions. The Goodman is one of Chicago's preeminent theatres in a town certainly known for exceptional theatrical productions. I interviewed actor Tom Mula, who played the role of Scrooge from 1991-1998 about his own novella, Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol (Adams Media, 1995). I even pondered the fate of the many child actors who donned the pint-sized newsboy cap and the little crutch playing "Tiny Tim" at the Goodman over the years, tracking down a number of them for the National Public Radio program, All Things Considered.

    This year, I decided to introduce two of my three daughters to the play, my oldest, 12 and my middle child, 9. I realized they were ready for the element of fright (A Christmas Carol is a pretty scary ghost story, after all), but, moreover, I realized they were very much ready for the element of humanity at the heart of this mythic work of British literature. Scrooge's story, like the best works of the dark fantastic, use the genre as a means to reflect on contemporary humanity.

    My family lives on Chicago's north side. My daughters and I took the elevated train downtown. It was a chilly night, with a mix of rain and snowflakes coming down in tiny diamonds. As the train crossed over the Chicago river, my girls had their hands pressed up against the windows, looking at all the skyscrapers illuminated red and green. It is always magical to see kids today enamored by simple things like holiday lights and train rides. My kids--Gen Z, iGen, post-millennial--whatever their generation will eventually officially be stamped (MTV officially deemed those born after 2000 "Founders," but this smacks of a well-past-its-prime music television network attempting to be in touch with the social zeitgeist). Regardless, kids amidst the constant contemporary flurry of social media and relentless 8:30 to 3:30 iPad curricula need, want, desire to slow down and enjoy the simple life, not in pixels but in honest to goodness 20/20.

    We walked from the Chicago Transit Authority stop to the Goodman and the energy was electric. The Goodman is in Chicago's theater district, marquees aglow on every block. We took our seats and my girls didn't know what to expect other than a Victorian grumpy-old-man Christmas narrative. But the Goodman production did not disappoint. Now in it's 39th year, the show was fresh and vibrant, yet entirely faithful to Dickens. The set design was spectacular, from Scrooge's lending office, to the ever-eerie Marley doorknocker and beyond. Actor Larry Yando, now in his ninth-year as the old curmudgeon, has the delicate balance of Ebenezer down cold--mean, tragic, subtly comic, the perfect unlikable protagonist for the audience to cheer on. Scrooge is, down deep, sympathetic and, as I looked at my two girls midway through the performance, they got it. They were enraptured. My eldest girl steers clear of sad stories and she endured this one, knowing full well that a tremendous narrative payoff was, indeed, in store.

    I wanted my girls to like A Christmas Carol, yet, frankly, I wasn't sure they would. Would the old English dialogue be off-putting? Would the story line in the age of nanosecond editing and CGI narratives prove to move at the rate of continental drift?

    Not so. As I looked at them, they loved it. They were completely drawn in and when Scrooge proclaimed that he was, at last, happy, and he ran out in to the London streets to share his newly discovered generosity, my daughters were transfixed.

    When the play was over and we filed out of the theatre it was late. But the city was still abuzz with holiday energy and pedestrians moving quickly along down the wintry city streets. And we climbed the steps to the elevated train platform and when the train arrived we boarded and reveled in its warmth, like a bakery shop.

    We sat down and began the ride home and my nine-year-old dark-haired darling turned and said, "I didn't know plays could make sense."

    I smiled at this and knew instantly it was a reference to her annual all-school theatrical production with over 100 kids, all with a speaking parts, a chaotic, if sweet explosion of unintended narrative surrealism.

    "You liked it?" I asked.

    Both girls nodded as the train swayed and wound its way north on this chilly winter night.

    And then both girls looked to me and asked, "Can we go see another play?"

    And I sat back and felt a sense of deep parental accomplishment. I thought about it: When young kids in today's world ask a question like that, I knew exactly how Tiny Tim would respond.

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    When it comes to selling art work, an artist can take the route of a co-operative gallery, online sales, art fairs, anything that can get them exposure and put their art into the eyes of inquisitive buyers. The question of how comes with a myriad of answers, all part of the complex, beautiful, strategic, critical, historical art world. But the question of why is rarely ever asked.

    Abstract artist, Bethany Brooke, is a Connecticut-based mother of 3, whose mission as an artist not only centers around her passion for painting her own personal story, but also to spread awareness for a charity she has been involved with for many years. It may not be the aesthetic or visual content that vastly promotes this charity, Al's Angels, but Bethany is using the money from sales of her art work to give back.

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    From a recent article written by Jana Ritter on Bethany and her artwork:

    "Not only has Brooke managed to turn her passion for painting into a liberating personal journey and a burgeoning career, she is also using her art to power her mission in philanthropy. For years, she and her family have been involved with the children's charity, Al's Angels, both as active benefactors and volunteers. And now that her paintings are capturing a growing audience of collectors and private buyers, she is helping the organization even further by donating a portion of artwork sales.

    'Al's Angels was founded with the mission of providing moments of cheer and support to families facing childhood cancer, rare blood diseases, and the financial hardship that often accompanies battling such illnesses," Brooke explains. "Our family's involvement with Al's Angels and the organization's mission has filled our life with love.

    There are a handful of things I do in my life that bring me pure exuberance, helping others and painting both happen to be at the top of that list. I have now found a way to marry those efforts. If my paintings bring beauty to the lives of those who acquire them and the proceeds can be used to help thousands of others in need, then my art is truly a gift that keeps on giving.'
    "



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    You can read the full article on Bethany here, can visit her website to see more and can help contribute to the charity (while also building your incredible art collection) by purchasing Bethany's work through her website or her Saatchi Gallery.

    All photos courtesy of Bethany Brooke.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    I just published my first novel. But I am not a writer.
    Says the nagging, self-doubting little devil that has been on my shoulder throughout the process of fulfilling my dream. 'Who do you think you are?!', he screams. In my native Scandinavia, the devil has a name. I grew up with the written law of Jante; these devastating ten rules put on paper by Axel Sandemose in 1933 that negatively portrays and criticises individual success and achievement as unworthy and inappropriate, according to Wikipedia.
    My real accomplishment in publishing my novel, was my victory over the nagging inner voice who told me I could not do it.

    Afraid to Create
    Every third Swede would like to write a novel. (Source: Svenska Dagbladet, Ida Théren, 18th September 2016) and apparently only 5% of all submitted manuscripts in Norway will get published. Despite the brutal statistics, I embarked on my novel-writing project full of optimism. I rented a house on the beach on Mallorca for four weeks and left friends and family behind to immerse myself in another version of me. I loved it. When the occasional tourist asked what I was doing, I answered casually; I am a writer. Inside I beamed with pride and blushed of shame.
    Why are we so afraid of running after our dreams? I have a successful international business career and I never felt ashamed of achieving success on my company's behalf. But when editing the first draft of my novel, the little devil arrived on the should the very moment at sat down at my desk. 'That sounds banal! They will all laugh at you. No one will take you seriously. Embarrassing.'

    Stronger through Meditation
    I started my writing adventure in response to an inner longing that I had ignored and ridiculed for years. Meditation became essential to me in preparing to follow my dream. Through the daily 20 minutes of sitting still, problems dissolved and a new reality emerged. It expanded my sense of self and a braver and brighter version of me emerged. The world around me appeared kinder and more generous.
    My daily sanctuary gave me the strength to start writing. The world that I created in my mind became real over time. I kept telling myself that I was a writer, despite that my business card read "Marketing Director".

    Getting Older is a Blessing
    Getting older is wonderful. I lovingly embrace being 53 and find much truth in what Veronique Vienne writes in her book 'The Art of Growing Up': 'Could it be that each new stage and each new situation in life is an opportunity to shed youthful insecurities, reevaluate old habits, and get rid of obsolete constraints?".
    Although I earned pocket money as a teen ager publishing poems in a weekly magazine, it is only with age that I have the life experience to write a novel. Throughout my writing process, I have remembered places, people and feelings that I cherish as my precious jewels.

    Making the World a Richer Place
    Our opportunities to create and be heard have never been greater. The internet and the digital world offers everyone the chance to find an audience. But even without wanting to be famous, the main obstacle in fulfilling our dreams, is the inner judge.
    I believe the world is a richer place when there is room for creative abundance. I cheer everyone who goes out of their comfort zone to follow their inner voice to create. I salute the courage. Go create.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    By Annika Andersson, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, December 30, 2016

    Winter is here and one of best ways to combat the cold is to go inside--to the movies! Hollywood seems to schedule even more of their blockbuster releases around the holidays, case in point--Rogue One: A Star Wars Story took over complete multiplex theaters on its opening weekend! And here in New York, we are privileged to have access to a fairly steady stream of great independent film options from all over the world, but invariably the question arises "where should we go to see this movie?"

    New York City is home to an astounding variety of movie theatres, offering everything from traditional neighborhood cinemas to large multiplex chains--including one of the largest IMAX screens in the world! Here are five amazing theaters offering refuge from the chilly winter winds; so while you sit inside far from the cold, you'll have some lovely amenities to enjoy as well.

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    AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13


    AMC began as a family business 90 years ago, and has grown to become one of the largest movie chains in the U.S., welcoming approximately 200 million guests annually in 300 movie theatres. One of these multiplex theaters is located on the Upper West Side, just a block and a half away from Central Park. This complex is the home of one of the largest IMAX theaters in the country, with a staggering 600 seats. AMC generally shows big commercial productions and blockbusters, and is equipped with incredible audio, video, and 3D that gives justice to any special effects. All AMC movie theaters offer reduced prices to screenings starting before noon, which may be worth noting for the budget traveller. And it's not a bad way to start your day, as there are plenty of comfy brunch restaurants in the area to head to afterwards, where you can discuss the film. The neighborhood has also seen a recent increase in shopping venues, such as outlet store Century21 around the corner. But if you'd like to splurge on your movie experience, AMC also offers the pricier alternative AMC Prime, which combines the high quality picture and sound technology of Dolby Cinema with enormous, numbered reclining seats. But beware -- if you've ever leaned back in one of those for a film screening, it's hard to ever be content with regular seats again!

    AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 is located at 1998 Broadway between 67th and 68th Street on the Upper West Side.

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    Film Society of Lincoln Center


    If you are more interested in Indie films, head down a couple of blocks to Lincoln Center's own movie theaters. Their beautiful paneling and airy design definitely makes them among the chicest and most upscale in New York, offering a wide range of films that will attract the true cinephile. What differentiates Lincoln Center's programming from others showing independent film, is the mix of film series like "Open Roads: New Italian Cinema" and "Rendez-Vouz with French Cinema." The main attraction is of course the prestigious New York Film Festival in October, which is well worth a visit in itself. The true lover of culture doesn't even need to travel further than a couple of doors, as the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic and New York City Ballet is located in the same complex. Central Park is only a couple blocks away, in case you need to stretch your legs after your movie or performance, or if you haven't had enough, stroll down a 20 minute walk on Broadway to catch a musical or a play. And best yet--there's a full-service cafe that operates at the main location--Indie Food and Wine--so you have lots more options for snacking besides popcorn. Click here for the menu.

    Film Society of Lincoln Center encompasses the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center (a multi-screen complex) at 144 West 65th Street, as well as the Walter Reade Theater across the street at 165 West 65th Street on the Upper West Side.

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    Angelika Film Center


    Further downtown where Broadway crosses Houston Street (and a couple of blocks west), you'll find the iconic Angelika Film Center & Cafe. Houston Street is the formal divide of NOHO from SOHO (North of Houston vs. South of Houston), which coincidentally offers two of New York's best and hippest downtown shopping areas. Angelika belongs to a movie chain focusing on independent film, and the New York location opened in 1989.

    The corner entrance is located at the Renaissance-inspired Cable Building, which was built in 1892-94 as the headquarters for one of the city's tram companies. It was hailed by contemporaries for its magnificent architecture. The films are shown in the basement, which once served as the power plant for the trams. Sometimes you can hear (and feel) the subway trains during screenings, but if you are not overly sensitive, the prime location and fine selection of films shown, are well worth the visit.

    Angelika New York is located at 18 West Houston Street (at the intersection of Mercer Street).

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    Landmark Sunshine Cinema


    At the corner of Broadway and Houston, if you turn east on Houston Street you'll discover Landmark Sunshine Cinema, located in a beautiful Lower East Side building from 1898. Previously, the location has shown films under the name of the Houston Hippodrome, served as a theater for Yiddish vaudeville, and functioned as a warehouse. In 2001 Sunshine Cinema took over the building and when it opened to the public in December of that year, it was equipped to offer five salons with DLP digital projection and Dolby Digital Surround EX sound.

    Landmark Theatres is America's largest movie theatre chain dedicated to feature and promote independent film. In addition to showing a great selection of films, the space also offers a Japanese rock garden and a stunning view of the city from the third floor's spectacular glass window.

    Landmark Sunshine Cinema is located at 143 East Houston Street between Forsyth and Eldridge Street on the Lower East Side. And be on the lookout for the opening of its newest location at 625 West 57th Street (at 12th Avenue).

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    IFC Center


    Back on the west side, in the heart of New York's picturesque West Village, you'll find the IFC Center. This is another great choice for the lover of documentaries, world cinema and independent films. IFC is hosting North America's largest documentary film festival DOC NYC in the fall, while showing a great program of independent film all year round, often followed by directors Q&A's. IFC also offers a variety of themes and programs, such as cult movies Fridays and Saturdays at midnight, a monthly program featuring LGBTQ guest curators, special presentations of theatrical productions such as National Theatre Live, Royal Shakespeare Company, Branagh Theatre Live and much more. The venue opened in June 2005, following a renovation of the historic Waverly Theater. Be sure to use the bathrooms downstairs so you may add the experience of walking through a basement dungeon tunnel flooded in green light to your New York bucket list.

    IFC Center is located at 323 6th Avenue (where 6th Avenue crosses 3rd Street).

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    Film Club at Crosby Street Hotel


    And for one more "bonus" entry on our list (even though there aren't any current listings for upcoming films, you should be aware of this really nice, high-end viewing option for down the road).

    SOHO's Crosby Street Hotel has a luxuriously designed screening room in the basement, and on Sunday evenings, the hotel runs a film club, which is open to both hotel guests and the public. The films shown are often critically acclaimed blockbusters, which usually includes many Oscar and Golden Globe-winning and -nominated films. The hotel offers packages with dinner or cocktails at the Crosby Bar, followed by a movie at eight o'clock. But you may need to book well in advance, as the movie theater holds only 99 seats, which sell out quickly. A three-course dinner and a movie package costs $55. A cocktail with bar snacks and film is $35.

    Crosby Street Hotel is located at 79 Crosby St, New York, NY 10012 in Soho between Prince and Spring Street.

    * * * * *


    This is just a small, select grouping of all the movie theaters New York has to offer. To find a theater closest to you, visit Fandango and type in your ZIP code, select the film, and then the movie theater. We hope our list provides you with a balanced mix of movie theater options, as well as opportunities to enjoy some great New York architecture in the process. Happy Viewing!

    Annika Andersson is a Contributing Writer for ZEALnyc and writes about film and related events.

    For more features from ZEALnyc read:

    'Exhibitionism--The Rolling Stones' is a 'rocker's Nirvana'

    Finding your inner Olaf at all the NYC area ice skating rinks

    Top 5 Sizzling Hot Winter Music Festivals in Frigid New York City

    For all the news on New York City arts and culture, visit ZEALnyc Front Page.

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    The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has accepted an invitation to sing at President-elect Trump’s inauguration, immediately generating a degree of controversy and prompting the circulation of an online petition opposing the choir’s upcoming performance which (as of the time of writing) has more than 20,000 signatures.


    The petition argues that Donald Trump “DOES NOT reflect the values of Mormonism and does not represent its diverse 15+ million members worldwide.” It further states that the performance will send a signal, whether intended or not, “that the LDS Church and its diverse 15+ million members worldwide support an incoming president’s agenda, values and behaviors.” As someone who is proud of my Mormon heritage and who has publicly spoken out against Mr. Trump’s agenda, values, and behaviors, this question is an important one to me.


    A strong defense of the choir’s decision to accept the invitation to sing at Trump’s inauguration comes from Daniel Peterson who argues that to decline the invitation would be an explicitly political action which would be inappropriate for a politically-neutral religious institution to engage in.


    Perhaps the strongest defense I have seen comes from the LDS Church itself: “The choir’s participation continues its long tradition of performing for U.S. presidents of both parties at inaugurations and in other settings, and is not an implied support of party affiliations or politics. It is a demonstration of our support for freedom, civility and the peaceful transition of power.” In my view, this is a defensible and honorable motivation. Freedom, civility, and democratic norms are all things that deserve to be supported and celebrated.


    That being said, I also think there are important and defensible arguments against the choir’s decision.


    Regardless of the specific motivations of the choir to accept the invitation, it will almost certainly be interpreted by most viewers (both at home and abroad) as an endorsement of the president-elect and his values and priorities. The LDS Church has emphasized on several occasions that the choir is an official representative of the church. Given that role, it is notable that a singer recently resigned from the choir given that she could not, in good conscience, be part of an organization that chose to publicly associate with Mr. Trump and his values and priorities. Also, a high-ranking elder of the LDS Church once explained that dealing with something “in a public situation” constitutes an implied approval.


    Democrats and Republicans alike have acknowledged that Mr. Trump’s behavior during the campaign and since his election has been characterized by explicit appeals to racial prejudice, religious prejudice, and misogyny. He has unapologetically bragged about multiple incidents of sexual assault. He has called for a ban on Muslim immigration to the United States (something that should especially be unacceptable to Mormons who themselves were on the receiving end of such policies not too long ago). His rhetoric is strongly signaling that he would like to weaken traditional American democratic norms, freedoms, and institutions.


    Even though the motivation of the choir to perform at Mr. Trump’s inauguration is in my view an honorable one, the result will unavoidably be a strengthened association between the LDS Church and Mr. Trump’s shameful and disgraceful behaviors, values, and anti-democratic priorities in the eyes of both the United States and the world community.


    In sum, there are two important and defensible moral imperatives at play: 1) publicly standing for political neutrality and the celebration of democratic institutions, and 2) publicly standing against racism, misogyny, sexual assault, and authoritarian gestures.


    Recognizing that sometimes tough choices need to be made between two good options, on this particular question I would confidently choose the latter. This is because in my framework of moral reasoning, I tend to give preference to groups and priorities that are on the disadvantaged end of a power relationship. In this case, standing with racial/ethnic minorities, Muslims, victims sexual assault and harassment, and oppressed citizens of authoritarian regimes around the world is of a higher moral imperative than publicly celebrating a peaceful transition of power, especially when that transition is to an individual who is actively threatening to do harm to those disadvantaged groups.


    It is also worth noting again that the stated motivation of the choir is to show support for democratic norms and institutions such as “freedom… and the peaceful transition of power.” Given that honorable motivation, one could argue that a decision to decline the invitation from someone who has publicly called for weakening American democratic norms of freedom and the peaceful transition of power would be a more effective way to demonstrate that support than to appear to be publicly endorsing an individual who is not supportive of those priorities.


    This is why I decided to sign the petition and I encourage you to consider doing so as well.


    Your mileage may differ. Of course, I do not think you are wrong if you disagree.

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  • 12/30/16--10:39: ART OLYMPIA 2017
  • 2016-12-29-1483053071-1841966-1.1stprizeartworkcrop.jpg

    First prize, artworks: Welcome, Tadashi Tanaka (Japan), drawing with slim ballpoint pen and colored pencil.

    It has been said many times before that a basic secret of success for an artist is recognizable natural talent coupled with burning ambition and concentrated hard work. But looking back on contemporary art history, the jumping off point for most thriving artists is receiving professional acknowledgment early on in their efforts, which can lead to many obvious benefits, including gallery representation, and interest in their work from critics and the museum community. The question is, how to get the right type of specialized, affordable international exposure within a reasonable amount of time while building an arts career. There are numerous routes an artist may take to increase his or her chances of achievement, and among those is the laborious process of contacting galleries and museums, which unfortunately sometimes have their own agenda, making the odds of being given a show discouraging. On the other hand, another viable option for young and emerging artists is participation in a prestigious juried competition that receives global awareness, one of the few choices where there can be both substantial cash prizes and valuable exposure for the winners.

    2016-12-29-1483053252-7373161-2.2ndprizeartworkcrop.jpg

    Second prize, artworks: Red Forest, Antonio Fario (Portugal).

    This kind of accomplishment-oriented attention often is an immediate game changer for an artist's reputation. These creative contests are usually artistic and literary, rather than sports or scholarship related challenges. Generally, juried competitions are when individuals actively enter to vie for prizes, rather than circumstances where others nominate worthy individuals, such as the Academy Awards or the coveted Turner Prize in painting. The Guggenheim Fellowship is a good example of an award that straddles the line between a scholarship contest and a juried art competition.

    2016-12-29-1483053347-2629607-3.Firstprizestudentcategory.jpg

    First prize, student category: Cypher of Pixie, Yuxuan Wu (Taiwan).

    The history of juried competitions can be traced all the way back to Greece, under Aeschylus and his successors, who delighted in exploring both public theatrical and artists' contests, using these as competitive forums to discover fresh talent. More recently, but before the advent of the internet, national and international juried competitions were advertised in trade publications, with jurists selected from among the artistic or literary elite and visual works accepted primarily from submissions of photographic slides, which made it much easier than sending in a bulky portfolio of original art. Now this complicated process has entered a new age of simplicity and precision.

    2016-12-29-1483053458-2975994-4.Finaljudging.JPG


    Final judging. Photo courtesy Monthly Gallery.

    Art Olympia is an annual international competition held in Tokyo, Japan, which is supported by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and follows the great tradition of determining and supporting various talented artists from around the world. For last year's event, nearly 3,000 artists from fifty-two different countries participated and approximately 4,000 works eventually were presented.

    2016-12-29-1483053522-2466913-5.jurors.JPG

    Final jurors, June 10, 2015.

    Juried Art Services, the respected art competition coordinators, has collaborated effectively with other international competitions, but Art Olympia certainly is the most successful ever. Juried Art Services (known as JAS) works with many major institutions, including the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., as well as the American Craft Council and Harvard University, among others. As the Art Olympia competition has the largest global reach, along with its prestigious panel of judges and a remarkable sum of prize money, it needed to have an expedient method by which to screen thousands of artist applicants professionally and efficiently, and JAS has devised a foolproof system of review that would be essential for such an ambitious and logistically complicated program.

    2016-12-29-1483054801-8732446-6.exhibitionopening.jpg

    Opening of exhibition, Art Olympia.

    ARTISTS' Alert.....! There are many avenues to explore that may bolster your individual art careers, but the odds seem to be in your favor if you examine the cash and extra prizes totaling $500,000 that will be awarded at Art Olympia to 180 individual artists, along with the opportunity to show works in Tokyo. I notice people every day who are filling out lucky numbers for the Florida lottery at nearby convenience stores, but the odds of winning even a small prize are literally a multi-million to one! In all the competitions that I have judged over the past twenty-five years, I have never seen an equal to the opportunities and better odds of acceptance offered to artists by the Art Olympia organization.

    2016-12-30-1483122325-3870324-7.exhibition2.JPG

    Exhibition at Toshima Ward Office Building in Tokyo, with more than 10,000 in attendance.

    The concept is simple and direct and revolves around three core characteristics: This truly remarkable and singular competition has an outstanding team of professionals, and they have the necessary means, skills and determination to make Art Olympia the leading event of its kind. The ultimate goals are the development of a HUB for cultural exchanges among artists from all over, and to find and showcase talented artists from around the planet. The definitive objective is "the creation of new art for the next generation by world artists," and to expand overseas cultural exchanges that can pave the way to the creation of new art.

    There are several important features of Art Olympia to consider: entries are accepted worldwide, with approximately eighty finalists from Japan and an additional 100 works from international sources. Another advantage is that the judges are experts from around the world, including Japan, the United States, France and other countries, who supervise the final review where a point system is utilized for fairness and accuracy in this impressive competition, which is held every two years.

    2016-12-29-1483053859-6134815-8.TadashiTanaka.jpg

    First prize winner Tadashi Tanaka, who is a professional house painter, as well as an artist.

    Artists interested in Art Olympia may go directly to the following sites for complete information:
    http://artolympia.info
    http://www.artolympia.jp (Japanese)
    http://www.artolympia.jp/englishhtml/e-index.html (English)
    The deadline for applying is March 31, 2017.

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  • 01/01/17--11:51: Donna Quesada: Art Review
  • My dear friend Larry Payne mentioned that he had just purchased three watercolor paintings, so I arranged a visit to this exciting new artist's atelier. Based in Culver City, CA, Donna Quesada finds inspiration in nature. Towering over her home studio are two giant sycamore trees that she says are the sole survivors of what was once a line of 122 brothers and sisters. Intertwined among them now are various other plants and trees, such as palms, umbrellas and even banana trees.

    Donna showed me her paintings and the first thing I noticed was that some of her exquisitely ornate watercolors had a slightly Asian feel. Donna said that she loves to work with a special Japanese ink called sumi-é, which she often uses alongside watercolor. It is the sumi-é that gives many of her pieces an eastern feel.

    Here are four of my favorites:

    2016-12-31-1483167556-9773776-No1.jpg

    I loved the black trees juxtaposed by the bright leaves in "Yellow Autumn Trees." It is simple yet dramatic and striking, immediately conveying the feeling of the changing season.

    2016-12-31-1483167594-1939107-No2.jpg

    "Pink Blowing Tree" was another immediate favorite. If you look closely you can see layers of splattered paint in myriad colors bursting off of the canvas and making the painting feel dynamic and alive. I loved the paradoxical mood created by the dark ink background with the brightness of the sky and the tree. This is a very exciting painting.

    2016-12-31-1483167626-200092-No3.jpg

    With the sycamores above the studio, it is easy to see how "Sycamore Tree" came into fruition. The upward perspective was dizzying and enticing; it made me feel as if the tree was reaching towards the infinite.

    2016-12-31-1483167715-5385785-No6.jpg

    With its subdued palette of earthy colors and speckled snow, "Boy & Dog in the Snow" is a vivid impression of a winter day in the woods.

    For more information please visit www.DonnaQuesada.com

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    2016-12-28-1482945229-1374926-TheBandsVisit.jpg


    By Christopher Caggiano, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, January 2, 2016

    There's been some chatter online and in theatrical circles as to whether The Band's Visit, the intensely real and intimate new musical currently playing Off Broadway at the Linda Gross Theater at the Atlantic Theater Company, is actually a musical. Does it have enough songs? Are the songs sufficiently musical theater-like? Or is it really a play with music?

    My response to such questions is usually: Who cares? Is it any good?

    And The Band's Visit is good. It's more than good. It's exquisite. Librettist Itamar Moses and composer/lyricist David Yazbek have taken Elan Kolirin's small, touching 2007 film of the same name and created a small, touching show that's perfectly content with simply introducing us to two bands of real people and letting us get to know them as they get to know each other. The Band's Visit is ultimately about the simple but transformative power of human connection.

    The story concerns a literal band of Egyptian musicians who become lost on their way to play at the dedication of a new Arab arts center in Israel. The locals in a remote Israeli town take in the wayward players and, as they spend the night together, we're treated to a series of intimate portraits of these quietly desperate people. The ongoing conflict between Arabs and Jews in the Middle East serves as very soft but nonetheless discernible subtext, coloring but not dominating the action.

    It's hard to imagine a more ideal director for The Band's Visit than David Cromer (although Harold Prince was originally announced to direct, and indeed was in the house the night I saw the show). Cromer understands the tremendous importance of detail, without losing sight of the larger vision of a production. Cromer populates the stage with the Israeli locals, and has the Egyptian band members hanging around the stage providing background music, and yet we get the sense that each of these people have their own story, even if they never actually speak.

    That character depth and strong sense of place are a testament to Cromer's directorial skill, but also an outgrowth of the show itself, with Itamar Moses's deceptively simple book and sparsely yet deftly drawn characters, as well as David Yazbek's richly introspective songs. Yazbek has proven himself an admirably protean songwriter since he came on the Broadway scene with two blasts of full-on Broadway brass (The Full Monty and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels), only to follow that with the driving Iberian pulse of Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Yazbek takes that eclectic impulse further with the idiomatic chromaticism of The Band's Visit, paired with the undeniable wit and skill of his lyrics.

    Two of Yazbek's most flavorful and complex songs here go to the sinuous Katrina Lenk as Dina, in a breakout performance as a bored Israeli cafe owner who experiences a romantic awakening upon the arrival of these Egyptian visitors. In "Omar Sharif," Dina languidly recalls the thrill of watching films with Arabian stars in her youth. In "Something Different," she careens off into an internal exploration of her roiling sexual desire as Tewfiq, played by a restrained but indelible Tony Shaloub, sings her a song from his native land.

    The show is full of intensely individual moments of simple yearning and muted desperation, particularly from Erik Liberman as a man on a non-stop vigil at a phone booth waiting for his girlfriend to call, and Andrew Polk as a widower vividly recalling his deceased wife. What might be the most charming moment in the show comes when Haled, played by a smoldering Ari'el Stachel as the band's resident ladies man, coaches an insecure young man on how to approach and win the affection of a reticent local girl (a wonderfully subtle Rachel Prather).

    The Band's Visit reminded me very strongly of the upcoming Broadway musical Come From Away, which similarly features a group of strangers being welcomed into a sleepy, remote community, with touching and richly human results. There's talk of The Band's Visit moving to Broadway next season, opening up the possibility that both shows will be playing on Broadway at the same time: two moving examples of disparate groups coming together to provide support and mutual understanding. Given the political situation we currently find ourselves in, they couldn't come at a better time.

    The Atlantic Theater recently announced a second extension for The Band's Visit which will now play through January 8th, 2017.

    ___________________________

    The Band's Visit at the Atlantic Theater Company at the Linda Gross Theater. Book by Itamar Moses, based on the screenplay by Eran Kolirin; music and lyrics by David Yazbek. Directed by David Cromer; musical direction by Andrea Grody. Cast: George Abud, Bill Army, John Cariani, Katrina Lenk, Erik Liberman, Andrew Polk, Rachel Prather, Jonathan Raviv, Sharone Sayegh, Kristen Sieh, Tony Shalhoub, Ari'el Stachel, and Alok Tewari.
    ___________________________

    Christopher Caggiano writes for ZEALnyc about theater performance and related topics.


    Read more from ZEALnyc:

    Holiday Wishes and New Year's Resolutions (and what we're looking forward to next year!)

    Top 5 Sizzling Hot Winter Music Festivals in Frigid New York City

    The Insider's List for the Best Hot Chocolate in NYC

    For all the news on New York City arts and culture, visit ZEALnyc Front Page.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    "Our guiding principle for choosing repertoire has always been pretty simple," said Asbjørn Nørgaard, viola player for Danish String Quartet. "We only perform music we like."

    "This sounds obvious," he continued, "but sometimes as a classical music student you find yourself playing music that might be part of the canon but that you are not actually enjoying. At the end of the day, the only thing that matters to us is that we like the music we are performing."

    To listeners, that enjoyment is palpable. Whether they are interpreting late Beethoven or a contemporary Scandinavian composer, or playing traditional Nordic folk music, Danish String Quartet has mesmerized audiences worldwide with its flawless intonation, infectious energy, and masterly poise. They play at New England Conservatory's Jordan Hall in Boston on January 28th at 8pm as part of the Celebrity Series of Boston.

    The group's performances and recordings display a distinctive joy in music making, which has resulted in part from long-standing friendships. Now in their 30s, three members of the quartet--violist Nørgaard and violinists Frederik Øland and Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen --met when they were in their early teens at summer camp in the Danish countryside for enthusiastic amateur musicians.

    "For us, friendship and music making has always been inseparable," Norgaard said. "As a quartet, you have to spend extreme amounts of time together. Many hours in the rehearsal room and traveling, plus all the high-pressure performances. Our friendship has allowed us to enjoy life as a string quartet quite a bit, and we believe that music thrives when musicians are happy, confident, and enjoying each other's company on and off the stage."

    Since 2001, the group has performed under the tutelage of Tim Frederiksen, a third generation chamber musician at Copenhagen's Royal Danish Academy of Music.

    "Tim gave us a way of working, a way of approaching chamber music that has been the perfect foundation for us to build on," Nørgaard said, going on to explain Frederiksen's remarkable attention to detail: "He will spend three hours on twenty bars of a Haydn quartet. When you go to a lesson with Tim, it feels like you enter a room with a jungle in your hands and leave with a nice Renaissance garden where everything is in balance and order."

    In 2008, the three Danish musicians were joined by Norweigan cellist Fredrik Schøyen Sjölin --"We found him hidden away in a castle outside Stockholm," says the group's website--and the current incarnation of Danish String Quartet was born.

    When they are putting together new repertoire, Nørgaard says it happens "in bursts of long rehearsal days" in their rehearsal room, a basement enclave at the Royal Danish Academy of Music.

    "There is more craftsmanship than artistry in this part of the process, so we are spending lots of time on basics like intonation and pulse. We leave most artistic decisions rather open and are not talking much--normally things start to settle by themselves without us having to verbalize every single thing we are doing. We are drinking lots of coffee, and as all of us are of a rather lazy nature, there is a lot of procrastination going on."

    Besides classical, what other music genres do the members of Danish String Quartet enjoy?

    "Some of us are obsessed with Wagner operas, all of us are into different kinds of folk music, someone likes straight up pop music, one is a jazz fan, another likes romantic symphonies and Pergolesi, all of us love Beethoven. We get inspiration from all music that we encounter."

    Their January 28th performance in Boston will exhibit the group's eclectic inspirations. The evening's program includes a quartet by Russian composer Alfred Schnittke along with three Beethoven pieces. The Schnittke quartet borrows from Beethoven's Grosse fuge and 16th century composer Orlando de Lassus; Nørgaard says it combines Lassus's Catholic faith and Beethoven's anger--"almost shaking his fist to the sky"--with Schnittke "hovering in between, unsure. All the doubt of modern man is in [Schnittke's] music and he is looking back to find some answers."

    Performance information:
    Saturday, January 28, 8pm | NEC's Jordan Hall | Presented by the Celebrity Series of Boston
    Tickets: celebrityseries.org/danish

    2017-01-02-1483374203-9672399-DanishQuartetbyCarolineBittencourt001.jpg

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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    A version of this article published earlier in Jewish Journal Boston

    New York City - From the East Side to the West Side, from uptown to the Southern tip of Battery Park, there's still time to catch a dazzling array of must-see exhibits that illuminate centuries of Jewish art, history and culture. A quartet of outstanding eateries are the perfect accompaniment, two housed in the museums and others are nearby.

    The First Jewish Americans: Freedom and Culture in the New World. New York Historical Society (170 Central Park West; through February 26, 2017) Visitors of all ages will be dazzled by the winter wonderland display of antique toys and trains in the entryway of this magnificent museum, the oldest in New York City. On the second floor, an eye opening exhibit traces the arrival of Jews in the New World and sheds light on the ways in which Jews were influenced by and left an enduring mark on the emerging nation. The show boasts more than 170 objects, many from the collection of Leonard Milberg, including rare early portraits, drawings, paintings, maps, books, documents and ritual objects - and two paintings by impressionist artist Camille Pissaro, born on St. Thomas and whose mother was Jewish. Milberg is a 1953 alumnus of Princeton University that now houses a large portion of his collection.

    2017-01-01-1483304428-4823669-3Pissarro_2WomenChatting_NGA_A16006.jpg
    Two Women Chatting by the Sea,' St. Thomas, 1856. By artist Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) (Courtesy National Gallery of Art)

    One remarkable highlight is a newly recovered late 16th century diary of Luis de Carvajal the younger (1567-1596). Born in Spain to a family of 'converso Jews' who converted to Catholicism, De Carvajal became a victim of the Mexican Inquisition.

    2017-01-01-1483306851-9102854-1Carvajalmanuscript.jpg
    An inset of the autobiographical manuscripts of Luis de Carvajal the Younger, circa 1595, with devotional manuscripts. (Courtesy of the Government of Mexico, from the New York Historical Society)

    Milberg, a savvy keen-eyed collector discovered the diary listed in an auction catalog.

    "It was too good to be true. They must be either copies or forgeries," he recalled thinking at the time. He headed over to the gallery to get an up-close look at the manuscripts. "I thought they were extraordinary," he told The Times of Israel.


    There's also a pair of delicately crafted silver torah filials by American-born Myer Myers, one of the most sought after silversmiths of his day. Other items highlight the ways in which women played a leading role in forging the early Jewish American experience.

    2017-01-01-1483304840-7660143-11RebeccaGratz_smaller.jpg
    Thomas Sully portrait of Rebecca Gratz, 1831;The Rosenbach Museum and Library; courtesy New York Historical Society


    There are several paintings and a book by Solomon Nunes Carvalho, a noted Charleston-born portrait artist and groundbreaking photographer who accompanied John Fremont on his 1853 Fifth Westward Expedition across the Rockies. His little known story is told in the new documentary, Carvalho's Journey, made by award winning filmmaker Steve Rivo and distributed by the National Center for Jewish Film.

    2017-01-01-1483307370-4327933-CarvalhosJourney_graphic__courtesyNational_Center_For_Jewish_Film.jpg


    Jerusalem 1000 - 1400: Every People Under Heaven. The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1000 Fifth Avenue; through January 8, 2017) Step back centuries to the extraordinary medieval history of Jerusalem, a period when the Holy City was home to more cultures, religions and languages than ever before. The exhibit reveals this rich and multilayered religious, political, commercial and artistic history through some 200 works including a treasure of early 11th century gold coins discovered two years ago in Caesarea, a detail from a 13th century Qu'ran and examples of Reliquary Crosses, many with decorative inlays of gems.

    2017-01-01-1483305592-4430444-IllustrationdetailfromTheBookofDivineService300.jpg
    Illustration (detail) from The Book of Divine Service from the Mishneh Torah of Maimonides
    Illumination attributed to the Master of the Barbo MIsssal, ca. 1457. Image courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art


    Interspersed with the historic displays are contemporary videos of sites in the city. Text panels make the point that there was a good deal of cultural interchange between the different cultures and religions.

    Artful bites on the Upper West Side

    From The New-York Historical Society, you can do no better than to experience Barney Greengrass, the original Sturgeon King. On a recent Sunday early afternoon, diners at the popular eatery and appetizer shop in business for more than 100 years, were ordering latkes in addition to the signature bagels, house-cured lox, smoked sable and more. 541 Amsterdam Avenue at 86th Street.

    A few doors down, at 551 Amsterdam Avenue, is a new eatery Kirsh Bakery and Kitchen. In the bakery, Israeli co-owners, David and Anat Kirsh are serving up freshly made pastries and breads, coffees, teas. The duo are behind Zuni, a 24/7 brasserie in Jerusalem. It was impossible to resist bringing home the crusty, flavorful round loaf of wheat germ bread; an almond pastry being sampled burst with almond and was not overly sweet or sugary.

    2017-01-01-1483302139-9863178-IMG_20161218_130756.jpg
    In December, the cases were filled with Sufganiyot, home made filled doughnuts for Hanukkah.

    John Singer Sargent's Mrs. Carl Meyer and Her Children, through February 5; Memphis Does Hanukkah, through February 12. The Jewish Museum New York 1109 Fifth Avenue at 92nd St

    Fans of John Singer Sargent's portrait of Isabella Stewart Gardner at Boston's beloved Gardner Museum will relish the chance to see the artist's stunning portrait of Adèle Meyer, a wealthy British Jewish patroness of the arts and philanthropic supporter of women's suffrage and social causes for the poor. The lush portrait is making a rare appearance at the Jewish Museum, the first time it's been on view in the U.S. in more than ten years. The exhibition features other portraits, photographs and correspondence. There's also a kids' guide and programs and activities for kids.

    2017-01-01-1483303291-9630825-TJM_664Sargent_F001Sargent.jpg
    John Singer Sargent, Mrs. Carl Meyer and her Children, 1896, oil on canvas. On loan from Tate Britain. Image courtesy, The Jewish Museum.

    Artful Bites: Russ & Daughters at The Jewish Museum

    No need to travel to the Lower East Side for Russ & Daughters for a taste from the iconic Jewish appetizer store and newer cafe. Enjoy a bagel and smoked fish, or knishes, borscht, salads and much more in this kosher 70-seat, sit-down restaurant that also serves wine, beer and cocktails. There's also a take-out appetizing counter. Closed Saturdays. Russ & Daughters was the subject of The Sturgeon Queens, Julie Silver's delightful documentary.

    Project Mah Jongg, through the end of January, 2017. The Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. 36 Battery Park Place.

    "Crack," "Bam," and "Dot." Generations of Mah Jongg players - and their children - will recognize the names of the tiles in this ancient Chinese game hugely popular among Jewish women of the mid-20th century. The lively exhibit includes cultural and historical items associated with the game and a recorded soundscape of the iconic clicking of the tiles. Visitors can even sit down for a game at the card table in the middle of the exhibit space.One display features the foods long associated with the game including a box of Joya brand chocolate covered Ring Jells, a Jello-mold, and a Mah Jongg-themed apron.

    2017-01-01-1483308054-9328930-IMG_20161118_120346.jpg
    Penny Schwartz photo

    "Given the prominent role of food in Jewish culture, it's no surprise that when Jewish women get together for Mah Jongg, food is a kind of fifth player," Ivy Barsky told MyJewishLearning's The Nosher. "It's about nurturing, being social and being warm and welcoming to guests," said Barsky, who was the museum's deputy director when the exhibit first opened there before traveling across the country. Barsky is now CEO of the National Museum of American Jewish HIstory in Philadelphia.


    Artful bites at Lox, the cafe at the Museum of Jewish Heritage

    There are five mouth watering varieties of house cured lox at Lox, the museum's cafe, now helmed by chef David Teyf. The kosher menu, inspired by recipes from Teyf's family, from Minsk, is an abundance of tempting Jewish and Russian tastes, from dill and vodka-infused lox, to a pastrami version and a sake-ginger lox. The smoked sable was mouth watering, like "a Jewish sushi," one diner commented between bites.

    2017-01-01-1483306112-463750-new_cafe.jpg

    Borscht with sour cream was a flavorful broth with bits of beets. The Country salad was a perfect pairing of radish, cucumbers, dill, hard-boiled egg and sour cream - a modern take on a nostalgic Eastern European immigrant standard fare lunch. The home made baked goods that fill the glass display case are incomparable - from poppy seed strudel to Teyf's walnut and cinnamon topped babka and his signature tray of Russian Coffee Cake. Open during museum hours.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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  • 01/03/17--05:21: 8 Artists on Water


  • Water covers 70 per cent of the earth's surface. "It's always the same and it's never the same," says Finnish artist Elina Brotherus. Hear her, Olafur Eliasson, Bill Viola, Marina Abramović and four other artists on the vital substance.

    Water: a place of danger and opportunity. American video artist Bill Viola, in whose work water is a stable participant, fell into a lake at the age of six and saw "probably the most beautiful world I've ever seen." Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson uses water as an "element of something moving in an otherwise static landscape" in his 2014 installation 'Riverbed' and Danish artist group Superflex uses water in their "post-apocalyptic movie" 'Flooded McDonald's'. A substance with many uses, meanings and possibilities, Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi - praised for his ability to build innovative architecture on water - says: "There's a whole life cycle in water, a whole economy."

    Also featured in this video is Serbian artist Marina Abramović, Czech artist Klara Hobza and American artist Roni Horn.

    Watch the full interview with Marina Abramović here:
    http://channel.louisiana.dk/video/superflex-why-we-flooded-mcdonalds

    Watch the full interview with Kunlé Adeyemi here:
    http://channel.louisiana.dk/video/kunl%C3%A9-adeyemi-living-water

    Watch the full interview with Elina Brotherus here:
    http://channel.louisiana.dk/video/elina-brotherus-human-perspective

    Watch the full interview with Olafur Eliasson here:
    http://channel.louisiana.dk/video/olafur-eliasson-riverbed-inside-museum

    Watch the full interview with Klara Hobza here:
    http://channel.louisiana.dk/video/klara-hobza-diving-through-europe

    Watch the full interview with Roni Horn here:
    http://channel.louisiana.dk/video/roni-horn-saying-water

    Watch the full interview with Superflex here:
    http://channel.louisiana.dk/video/superflex-why-we-flooded-mcdonalds

    Watch the full interview with Bill Viola here:
    http://channel.louisiana.dk/video/bill-viola-cameras-are-keepers-souls

    Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
    Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016

    Supported by Nordea-fonden

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


    0 0

    2016-12-28-1482952734-8184113-Fallujahcopy.jpg


    Mark McLaren, ZEALnyc Editor in Chief, January 3, 2017

    This week, New York City Opera continues its season with a Hal Prince mounting of Candide. From 1943 to 2013, NYCO had sat beside the Met as New York's other full-time repertory opera company. This production is the third in the first post-bankruptcy season, a season designed by General Director Michael Capasso on a production strategy meant to bring the company back to relevancy. ZEALnyc discusses with Mr. Capasso this production, his vision for a sustainable NYCO, and his strategies for success.

    MM: Let's start with 'Candide.' Hal Prince is back for this production. What will we see that is original?

    MC: This production is very much inspired by the previous productions that Hal Prince has done over the years including the environmental Brooklyn version that transferred to Broadway and the 1982 opera house version for City Opera. I think this is going to be another look at the piece for him, inspired by the original opera house version. It includes most of the music and lyrics, though we've made some changes.

    2016-12-28-1482952789-2305016-candideprod460c.jpg

    Lauren Worsham, Judith Blazer and Daniel Reichard in New York City Opera's 2008 production of 'Candide' directed by Hal Prince; photo: New York City Opera.


    It's going to be comfortable in that it's familiar enough, but if it's also different enough not to be same old same old.

    The scenery is actually slightly different - a little darker. We have built it to the standards of 2016 versus 1982. We've added some things and we've taken away some things. It's going to be refreshed with choreography by Pat Birch and Hal has very specific ideas about how he wants to mix things up a bit.

    MM: How about video?

    MC: Well yeah. I mean the production of Florencia en el Amazonas last spring was entirely video driven - just platforms and amazing video.

    We used video for a backdrop in Aleko / Pagliacci this fall. But Candide is all painted scenery, no video elements.

    Video is very in right now for opera productions, particularly because it can be a cost savings. But that isn't always the case. The equipment can be very expensive and the designers still get paid the same amount whether they're designing a set or video.

    So it's interesting. Video has to be done for a reason, it's got to match the piece. It worked with Florencia where there is a boat going down the Amazon. But a piece like Candide is not video driven in my opinion.

    2016-12-28-1482952841-5334016-Florenciacopy.jpg

    New York City Opera's production of 'Florencia en el Amazonas;'
    photo: Sarah Shatz/New York City Opera.


    MM: New York City Opera has a rich history and you're a component of that history right now. Talk to me about where you see New York City Opera sitting in the New York scene and how that has influenced your programming.

    MC: City Opera is the 'people's opera.' By comparison, the Met I think of as the United Nations, it belongs to the world but it just happens to be in New York. The Met is a large, international, fantastic opera company. But it's not uniquely a New York institution, it's a world institution.

    When I look at programming for City Opera, I think of our success in the past and in particular the way that Maestro Rudel would program. He would sell out performances of Carmen and Bohème on the weekends and put obscure repertoire like The Boy Who Grew Too Fast or Street Scene mid-week. He used warhorses to pay for his obscure opera habit.

    So our City Opera can be much more of a New York institution and our programming, in keeping with the City Opera tradition, will be some standard repertoire and more contemporary and American opera.

    In my opinion, City Opera is never going to be what it was, in that it's 120 performances in multiple productions in rep in that large theater. The world has changed.

    So I think we're going to grow. But I think it's definitely a stagione system, it's not rep. I think the Rose Theater is an ideal size for opera. We'll program warhorses, if you will, but in interesting pairings like Pagliacci and Rachmaninoff's Aleko, which have never been paired before and did well at the box office.

    2016-12-28-1482952889-2907238-Alekocopy.jpg

    Inna Dukach and Stefan Szkafarowsky in 'Aleko' at New York City Opera;
    photo: Sarah Shatz/New York City Opera.


    We program Candide which has a great track record for the company and we follow it with a Respighi opera that hasn't been performed in New York in eighty years. A very City Opera type piece of programming.

    Angels in America comes in June and it's no mistake that we're doing it during Pride Month, a commitment to doing a gay themed opera in Pride Month going forward.

    Now when City Opera left Lincoln Center, they were nomadic. They would do two productions in rapid succession. And months would go by before they did anything again. If you were busy you could have missed half the season just by having a vacation schedule at the wrong time.

    So we have the chamber works at alternate facilities, and which are designed to keep us in the public eye. Every six weeks or so City Opera has some activity. So far that model has worked and has been successful.

    2016-12-28-1482952938-5603666-DSC_0887copy.jpg

    The cast at the first rehearsal of New York City Opera's new production of 'Candide;' photo: Leslie Granger/New York City Opera.


    MM: Do you consider the Rose Theater your permanent home?

    MC: Yes definitely. I think it's very clear that the Rose Theater is where we're going to remain. It's 1,100 seats and has a large orchestra pit in a gracious acoustic. It's ideal for us, perfectly suited for what it is we do.

    It's also the only opera house that I've been to that's in the middle everything. One can see opera, have dinner, after dinner drinks. All of these things are available and we can create a different opera going-experience which I believe will help us bring in a newer, perhaps younger audience.

    MM: Is that something that City Opera is capitalizing on?

    MC: Yes. We're about to announce a collaboration with the fine dining restaurants for a concert we're going to do on Valentine's Day and we're looking toward pre-theater and post-theater dinners.

    We currently offer packages to our donors for a pre-theater experience with me or a member of the staff and then an after-performance cocktail with a cast member. We give them an unusual experience without ever having to leave the building.

    I think if we do that we'll create an impression on a newer opera goer that will engage them and likely compel them to come back.

    2016-12-28-1482953005-661706-Michael_Capasso_9751_8x10cChristianSteinercopy.jpg

    New York City Opera General Director Michael Capasso;
    photo: Christian Steiner/New York City Opera.


    MM: Something like the direction that museums have adopted to drive attendance.

    MC: Yes. Sunday matinees for instance are our most successful selling performance. I wish every performance was on Sunday at four o'clock! People can have brunch, go to the opera and go home. Or they can go to the opera and still have time for dinner. It really lands in the sweet spot of what people are doing on a day off. And our location makes this simple.

    A meaningful artist experience is also important. People meet one of our singers and the next time they go to the opera they say, "I can't believe I got to be that close to that person." And this will help City Opera go back to our star building system. City Opera was always known for discovering and nurturing new talent and bringing them up.

    Remarkably in the past few years, the performers were never announced in any of the publicity for City Opera and we've changed that. We're celebrating our performers and see to it that people recognize them. Because when they come back the next year, as some people will, I want people to be able to remember them. Or when they go to the Met, which other people have and will, they can say "ah, I remember when I saw them at City Opera."

    Candide runs at New York City Opera from January 6 - 15. Click here for more information.

    Click here for information on New York City Opera's season.

    Cover Photo: New York City Opera's production of 'Fallujah'; photo: Sarah Shatz/New York City Opera
    ___________________________

    Mark McLaren, ZEALnyc's Editor in Chief, writes frequently on classical music and theater.

    Read more from ZEALnyc:

    60th Anniversary of original Broadway production of 'Candide'

    Holiday Wishes and New Year's Resolutions (and what we're looking forward to next year!)

    Top 5 Sizzling Hot Winter Music Festivals in Frigid New York City

    For all the news on New York City art and culture, visit ZEALnyc's Front Page.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


    0 0

    Black Mirror is a British television series that focuses on how future technology impacts our daily lives. It’s fairly dark, in a subtle kind of way. Like most shows we watch, the entertainment value leaves us shortly after the experience of watching it ends. Occasionally, we find a film that sticks with us for days after we’ve finished watching. Season one, episode three, of Black Mirror is hard to shake if you’ve spent any time in a bad relationship, or a great one for that matter.


    In the episode, The Entire History of You, people in the future can opt to have a small device implanted behind the ear that records their every waking moment. The device gives the subscriber a chance to experience a “redo” at any time. Memories can be recalled and replayed at will in a person’s mind, or shared on a monitor for others to watch. Replay great memories over and over again. Examine every detail of something important. Delete unpleasant or unwanted memories from the device. The choice is yours. Why rely on the faulty memory of the human brain when you can store your life, as it happened, with perfect detail?


    It all sounds innocent enough until you meet Liam and Ffion, a married couple attending a dinner party. Liam sees Ffion talking to another man. Her body language, facial expressions, and even the way she laughs at one of the man’s jokes that Liam considers not funny, activate his antenna. Later, Liam replays the night’s events over and over and finally confronts his wife the next day when he decides something doesn’t seem right. Liam’s trip down the rabbit hole begins.


    Imagine a fight with your partner where you can recall and replay every thing that was said and done in the past? Ever hear your spouse say, “I never said that,”? Well, in this future world you can replay exactly what was said and shove it in their face. Does your spouse bring up “stuff” that happened years ago when they argue? Most agree that’s not fighting fair. But how hard would it be to resist such temptation during an argument?


    It gets worse. Have the days of hot, passionate sex with your spouse been replaced by a formulaic sex routine? The all-knowing memory chip can simply replace what is happening to you currently with an amazing memory of your past. In fact, you can replay the memories of any ex-lover or one night stand anytime you want, even when you’re alone, if you know what I mean.


    It’s not a big spoiler to figure out that things don’t end well for poor Liam and Ffion. No worries though, replaying the great memories of your past can make your present great too, right?


    Think about that for a minute. How much do we do this already? How often do we romanticize the past at the expense of the present? Or, do we dwell on the unpleasant instead of moving on with our lives? If you’re using your smartphone and your spouse is sitting across the table watching you right now, you are ignoring the present. You may not be reliving an old memory like in Black Mirror, but you are sure using technology to disconnect from someone in your present.


    When relationships end, we often wrestle with what to do with the memories of those relationships. If a memory only exists for you and one other person, what happens to it when that other person is not around anymore? Nothing actually. It’s all yours to keep. What you do with those memories is up to you, but if you find yourself replaying them at the expense of what’s happening in your life right now, you may have a memory chip problem.


    It’s always tempting to replay the good times when things seem to be going, well, not so great. In the end, this episode of Black Mirror ends up being pretty scary. Sometimes we need a reminder to live in the now. Replaying the ghosts of relationships past can affect your present.


    __________________________________________________________


    Follow Bill Online


    Or on Twitter @billyflan


    Facebook at Bill Flanigin, Writer

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


    0 0

    2016-12-28-1482952734-8184113-Fallujahcopy.jpg


    Mark McLaren, ZEALnyc Editor in Chief, January 3, 2017

    This week, New York City Opera continues its season with a Hal Prince mounting of Candide. From 1943 to 2013, NYCO had sat beside the Met as New York's other full-time repertory opera company. This production is the third in the first post-bankruptcy season, a season designed by General Director Michael Capasso on a production strategy meant to bring the company back to relevancy. ZEALnyc discusses with Mr. Capasso this production, his vision for a sustainable NYCO, and his strategies for success.

    MM: Let's start with 'Candide.' Hal Prince is back for this production. What will we see that is original?

    MC: This production is very much inspired by the previous productions that Hal Prince has done over the years including the environmental Brooklyn version that transferred to Broadway and the 1982 opera house version for City Opera. I think this is going to be another look at the piece for him, inspired by the original opera house version. It includes most of the music and lyrics, though we've made some changes.

    2016-12-28-1482952789-2305016-candideprod460c.jpg

    Lauren Worsham, Judith Blazer and Daniel Reichard in New York City Opera's 2008 production of 'Candide' directed by Hal Prince; photo: New York City Opera.


    It's going to be comfortable in that it's familiar enough, but if it's also different enough not to be same old same old.

    The scenery is actually slightly different - a little darker. We have built it to the standards of 2016 versus 1982. We've added some things and we've taken away some things. It's going to be refreshed with choreography by Pat Birch and Hal has very specific ideas about how he wants to mix things up a bit.

    MM: How about video?

    MC: Well yeah. I mean the production of Florencia en el Amazonas last spring was entirely video driven - just platforms and amazing video.

    We used video for a backdrop in Aleko / Pagliacci this fall. But Candide is all painted scenery, no video elements.

    Video is very in right now for opera productions, particularly because it can be a cost savings. But that isn't always the case. The equipment can be very expensive and the designers still get paid the same amount whether they're designing a set or video.

    So it's interesting. Video has to be done for a reason, it's got to match the piece. It worked with Florencia where there is a boat going down the Amazon. But a piece like Candide is not video driven in my opinion.

    2016-12-28-1482952841-5334016-Florenciacopy.jpg

    New York City Opera's production of 'Florencia en el Amazonas;'
    photo: Sarah Shatz/New York City Opera.


    MM: New York City Opera has a rich history and you're a component of that history right now. Talk to me about where you see New York City Opera sitting in the New York scene and how that has influenced your programming.

    MC: City Opera is the 'people's opera.' By comparison, the Met I think of as the United Nations, it belongs to the world but it just happens to be in New York. The Met is a large, international, fantastic opera company. But it's not uniquely a New York institution, it's a world institution.

    When I look at programming for City Opera, I think of our success in the past and in particular the way that Maestro Rudel would program. He would sell out performances of Carmen and Bohème on the weekends and put obscure repertoire like The Boy Who Grew Too Fast or Street Scene mid-week. He used warhorses to pay for his obscure opera habit.

    So our City Opera can be much more of a New York institution and our programming, in keeping with the City Opera tradition, will be some standard repertoire and more contemporary and American opera.

    In my opinion, City Opera is never going to be what it was, in that it's 120 performances in multiple productions in rep in that large theater. The world has changed.

    So I think we're going to grow. But I think it's definitely a stagione system, it's not rep. I think the Rose Theater is an ideal size for opera. We'll program warhorses, if you will, but in interesting pairings like Pagliacci and Rachmaninoff's Aleko, which have never been paired before and did well at the box office.

    2016-12-28-1482952889-2907238-Alekocopy.jpg

    Inna Dukach and Stefan Szkafarowsky in 'Aleko' at New York City Opera;
    photo: Sarah Shatz/New York City Opera.


    We program Candide which has a great track record for the company and we follow it with a Respighi opera that hasn't been performed in New York in eighty years. A very City Opera type piece of programming.

    Angels in America comes in June and it's no mistake that we're doing it during Pride Month, a commitment to doing a gay themed opera in Pride Month going forward.

    Now when City Opera left Lincoln Center, they were nomadic. They would do two productions in rapid succession. And months would go by before they did anything again. If you were busy you could have missed half the season just by having a vacation schedule at the wrong time.

    So we have the chamber works at alternate facilities, and which are designed to keep us in the public eye. Every six weeks or so City Opera has some activity. So far that model has worked and has been successful.

    2016-12-28-1482952938-5603666-DSC_0887copy.jpg

    The cast at the first rehearsal of New York City Opera's new production of 'Candide;' photo: Leslie Granger/New York City Opera.


    MM: Do you consider the Rose Theater your permanent home?

    MC: Yes definitely. I think it's very clear that the Rose Theater is where we're going to remain. It's 1,100 seats and has a large orchestra pit in a gracious acoustic. It's ideal for us, perfectly suited for what it is we do.

    It's also the only opera house that I've been to that's in the middle everything. One can see opera, have dinner, after dinner drinks. All of these things are available and we can create a different opera going-experience which I believe will help us bring in a newer, perhaps younger audience.

    MM: Is that something that City Opera is capitalizing on?

    MC: Yes. We're about to announce a collaboration with the fine dining restaurants for a concert we're going to do on Valentine's Day and we're looking toward pre-theater and post-theater dinners.

    We currently offer packages to our donors for a pre-theater experience with me or a member of the staff and then an after-performance cocktail with a cast member. We give them an unusual experience without ever having to leave the building.

    I think if we do that we'll create an impression on a newer opera goer that will engage them and likely compel them to come back.

    2016-12-28-1482953005-661706-Michael_Capasso_9751_8x10cChristianSteinercopy.jpg

    New York City Opera General Director Michael Capasso;
    photo: Christian Steiner/New York City Opera.


    MM: Something like the direction that museums have adopted to drive attendance.

    MC: Yes. Sunday matinees for instance are our most successful selling performance. I wish every performance was on Sunday at four o'clock! People can have brunch, go to the opera and go home. Or they can go to the opera and still have time for dinner. It really lands in the sweet spot of what people are doing on a day off. And our location makes this simple.

    A meaningful artist experience is also important. People meet one of our singers and the next time they go to the opera they say, "I can't believe I got to be that close to that person." And this will help City Opera go back to our star building system. City Opera was always known for discovering and nurturing new talent and bringing them up.

    Remarkably in the past few years, the performers were never announced in any of the publicity for City Opera and we've changed that. We're celebrating our performers and see to it that people recognize them. Because when they come back the next year, as some people will, I want people to be able to remember them. Or when they go to the Met, which other people have and will, they can say "ah, I remember when I saw them at City Opera."

    Candide runs at New York City Opera from January 6 - 15. Click here for more information.

    Click here for information on New York City Opera's season.

    Cover Photo: New York City Opera's production of 'Fallujah'; photo: Sarah Shatz/New York City Opera
    ___________________________

    Mark McLaren, ZEALnyc's Editor in Chief, writes frequently on classical music and theater.

    Read more from ZEALnyc:

    60th Anniversary of original Broadway production of 'Candide'

    Holiday Wishes and New Year's Resolutions (and what we're looking forward to next year!)

    Top 5 Sizzling Hot Winter Music Festivals in Frigid New York City

    For all the news on New York City art and culture, visit ZEALnyc's Front Page.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


    0 0

    2016-12-28-1482952734-8184113-Fallujahcopy.jpg


    Mark McLaren, ZEALnyc Editor in Chief, January 3, 2017

    This week, New York City Opera continues its season with a Hal Prince mounting of Candide. From 1943 to 2013, NYCO had sat beside the Met as New York's other full-time repertory opera company. This production is the third in the first post-bankruptcy season, a season designed by General Director Michael Capasso on a production strategy meant to bring the company back to relevancy. ZEALnyc discusses with Mr. Capasso this production, his vision for a sustainable NYCO, and his strategies for success.

    MM: Let's start with 'Candide.' Hal Prince is back for this production. What will we see that is original?

    MC: This production is very much inspired by the previous productions that Hal Prince has done over the years including the environmental Brooklyn version that transferred to Broadway and the 1982 opera house version for City Opera. I think this is going to be another look at the piece for him, inspired by the original opera house version. It includes most of the music and lyrics, though we've made some changes.

    2016-12-28-1482952789-2305016-candideprod460c.jpg

    Lauren Worsham, Judith Blazer and Daniel Reichard in New York City Opera's 2008 production of 'Candide' directed by Hal Prince; photo: New York City Opera.


    It's going to be comfortable in that it's familiar enough, but if it's also different enough not to be same old same old.

    The scenery is actually slightly different - a little darker. We have built it to the standards of 2016 versus 1982. We've added some things and we've taken away some things. It's going to be refreshed with choreography by Pat Birch and Hal has very specific ideas about how he wants to mix things up a bit.

    MM: How about video?

    MC: Well yeah. I mean the production of Florencia en el Amazonas last spring was entirely video driven - just platforms and amazing video.

    We used video for a backdrop in Aleko / Pagliacci this fall. But Candide is all painted scenery, no video elements.

    Video is very in right now for opera productions, particularly because it can be a cost savings. But that isn't always the case. The equipment can be very expensive and the designers still get paid the same amount whether they're designing a set or video.

    So it's interesting. Video has to be done for a reason, it's got to match the piece. It worked with Florencia where there is a boat going down the Amazon. But a piece like Candide is not video driven in my opinion.

    2016-12-28-1482952841-5334016-Florenciacopy.jpg

    New York City Opera's production of 'Florencia en el Amazonas;'
    photo: Sarah Shatz/New York City Opera.


    MM: New York City Opera has a rich history and you're a component of that history right now. Talk to me about where you see New York City Opera sitting in the New York scene and how that has influenced your programming.

    MC: City Opera is the 'people's opera.' By comparison, the Met I think of as the United Nations, it belongs to the world but it just happens to be in New York. The Met is a large, international, fantastic opera company. But it's not uniquely a New York institution, it's a world institution.

    When I look at programming for City Opera, I think of our success in the past and in particular the way that Maestro Rudel would program. He would sell out performances of Carmen and Bohème on the weekends and put obscure repertoire like The Boy Who Grew Too Fast or Street Scene mid-week. He used warhorses to pay for his obscure opera habit.

    So our City Opera can be much more of a New York institution and our programming, in keeping with the City Opera tradition, will be some standard repertoire and more contemporary and American opera.

    In my opinion, City Opera is never going to be what it was, in that it's 120 performances in multiple productions in rep in that large theater. The world has changed.

    So I think we're going to grow. But I think it's definitely a stagione system, it's not rep. I think the Rose Theater is an ideal size for opera. We'll program warhorses, if you will, but in interesting pairings like Pagliacci and Rachmaninoff's Aleko, which have never been paired before and did well at the box office.

    2016-12-28-1482952889-2907238-Alekocopy.jpg

    Inna Dukach and Stefan Szkafarowsky in 'Aleko' at New York City Opera;
    photo: Sarah Shatz/New York City Opera.


    We program Candide which has a great track record for the company and we follow it with a Respighi opera that hasn't been performed in New York in eighty years. A very City Opera type piece of programming.

    Angels in America comes in June and it's no mistake that we're doing it during Pride Month, a commitment to doing a gay themed opera in Pride Month going forward.

    Now when City Opera left Lincoln Center, they were nomadic. They would do two productions in rapid succession. And months would go by before they did anything again. If you were busy you could have missed half the season just by having a vacation schedule at the wrong time.

    So we have the chamber works at alternate facilities, and which are designed to keep us in the public eye. Every six weeks or so City Opera has some activity. So far that model has worked and has been successful.

    2016-12-28-1482952938-5603666-DSC_0887copy.jpg

    The cast at the first rehearsal of New York City Opera's new production of 'Candide;' photo: Leslie Granger/New York City Opera.


    MM: Do you consider the Rose Theater your permanent home?

    MC: Yes definitely. I think it's very clear that the Rose Theater is where we're going to remain. It's 1,100 seats and has a large orchestra pit in a gracious acoustic. It's ideal for us, perfectly suited for what it is we do.

    It's also the only opera house that I've been to that's in the middle everything. One can see opera, have dinner, after dinner drinks. All of these things are available and we can create a different opera going-experience which I believe will help us bring in a newer, perhaps younger audience.

    MM: Is that something that City Opera is capitalizing on?

    MC: Yes. We're about to announce a collaboration with the fine dining restaurants for a concert we're going to do on Valentine's Day and we're looking toward pre-theater and post-theater dinners.

    We currently offer packages to our donors for a pre-theater experience with me or a member of the staff and then an after-performance cocktail with a cast member. We give them an unusual experience without ever having to leave the building.

    I think if we do that we'll create an impression on a newer opera goer that will engage them and likely compel them to come back.

    2016-12-28-1482953005-661706-Michael_Capasso_9751_8x10cChristianSteinercopy.jpg

    New York City Opera General Director Michael Capasso;
    photo: Christian Steiner/New York City Opera.


    MM: Something like the direction that museums have adopted to drive attendance.

    MC: Yes. Sunday matinees for instance are our most successful selling performance. I wish every performance was on Sunday at four o'clock! People can have brunch, go to the opera and go home. Or they can go to the opera and still have time for dinner. It really lands in the sweet spot of what people are doing on a day off. And our location makes this simple.

    A meaningful artist experience is also important. People meet one of our singers and the next time they go to the opera they say, "I can't believe I got to be that close to that person." And this will help City Opera go back to our star building system. City Opera was always known for discovering and nurturing new talent and bringing them up.

    Remarkably in the past few years, the performers were never announced in any of the publicity for City Opera and we've changed that. We're celebrating our performers and see to it that people recognize them. Because when they come back the next year, as some people will, I want people to be able to remember them. Or when they go to the Met, which other people have and will, they can say "ah, I remember when I saw them at City Opera."

    Candide runs at New York City Opera from January 6 - 15. Click here for more information.

    Click here for information on New York City Opera's season.

    Cover Photo: New York City Opera's production of 'Fallujah'; photo: Sarah Shatz/New York City Opera
    ___________________________

    Mark McLaren, ZEALnyc's Editor in Chief, writes frequently on classical music and theater.

    Read more from ZEALnyc:

    60th Anniversary of original Broadway production of 'Candide'

    Holiday Wishes and New Year's Resolutions (and what we're looking forward to next year!)

    Top 5 Sizzling Hot Winter Music Festivals in Frigid New York City

    For all the news on New York City art and culture, visit ZEALnyc's Front Page.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


    0 0

    The only excuse I can come up with for not seeing the exceptional exhibition of John McLaughlin's paintings at LACMA until just a few days ago is the two other blockbuster exhibitions at the same museum: Picasso & Rivera and German Art in the Age of Dürer and Cranach. I went to see these two blockbuster exhibitions several times already and each time rejoiced at the richness and diversity of the artworks on display. So, how can any other exhibition survive a competition with Picasso and Dürer? On the very last day of 2016, I went to LACMA again, this time with one purpose, and one purpose only -- to see the retrospective exhibition of John McLaughlin (1898-1976).

    2017-01-03-1483487158-1527155-HP_1_McLaughlin_LACMA.jpg


    Anyone interested in the history of Southern California post-war art will recognize his important contributions to geometric abstract painting. I've seen McLaughlin's works on a number of occasions, and have always been aware of its importance. But not until this exceptional exhibition at LACMA was I able to connect with his art not only intellectually, but on a deeper emotional level.

    2017-01-03-1483487190-8775605-HP_2_Composite_Mclaughlin_LACMA.jpg


    McLaughlin's medium-sized paintings, with their rectangles of solid colors, give an initial impression of simplicity. But a very complicated simplicity it is, with strong echoes of abstract compositions by Kazimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian. What makes this exhibition so special and so unique is the fact that it's the first (and long overdue) retrospective of his works since his death 40 years ago.

    2017-01-03-1483487215-912533-HP_3_Composite_McLaughlin_LACMA.jpg


    I didn't plan to spend more than 15 or 20 minutes walking through the exhibition. But much to my surprise, I stayed there for over an hour, marveling at the sophistication and minimalistic luxury of McLaughlin's art. And here's yet another rather unexpected twist: each room of the exhibition has a few wooden chairs designed by well-known sculptor and furniture-maker Roy McMakin (b. 1956). He was commissioned to design these twelve chairs in response to McLaughlin's paintings. At first glance, all twelve chairs look the same, but pay attention and you'll discover subtle differences in their designs that compliment and echo the geometric compositions of the abstract paintings around them.

    2017-01-04-1483488249-5040095-HP_4_CatherinetheGreat_Portrait_RussianStateMuseum.jpg


    So my friends, if you haven't treated yourself yet to these three exceptional exhibitions at LACMA: do it now, in the first days of the New Year. Have fun. But please save a little bit of time and energy for yet another museum adventure -- a conversation at the Getty Center on Sunday, January 15 at 3pm. This one will be devoted to the minor German princess who married into the Russian imperial family and subsequently transformed herself into Catherine the Great (1729-1796).

    2017-01-04-1483488339-837171-HP_5_Composite_HermitageMuseum.jpg


    There is a fascinating new biography of Catherine by Susan Jaques, titled The Empress of Art. The book has a particular focus on her passion for art, which she collected voraciously throughout her reign. With the help and advice of such luminaries as Diderot and Voltaire, Catherine often acquired the entire collections of European nobility in desperate need of money.

    2017-01-04-1483488364-7619659-HP_6_Composite_WinterPalace_Hermitage.jpg


    The hundreds of paintings she acquired became the foundation of the world famous Hermitage museum in St. Petersburg. The history of the Hermitage and the life of Catherine as the Empress of Art will be the subject of a conversation between the author Susan Jaques and myself at the Getty auditorium on Sunday, January 15th at 3pm. The event will be open to the public but tickets should be reserved in advance.

    "There are few women in history more fascinating than Catherine the Great, and for the first time, Susan Jaques brings her to life through the prism of art."






    ___________


    Edward Goldman is an art critic and the host of Art Talk, a program on art and culture for NPR affiliate KCRW 89.9 FM. To listen to the complete show and hear Edward's charming Russian accent, click here.

    To learn about Edward's Fine Art of Art Collecting Classes, please visit his website. You can also read more about his classes in the New York Times here, and in Artillery Magazine.

    -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


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