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

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    By Helaine Feldman, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, February 2, 2017

    One of the most highly anticipated events of the 2017 Broadway season is the upcoming revival of Hello, Dolly! starring Bette Midler and featuring a memorable score by Jerry Herman.

    But, before that, the York Theatre will be presenting an earlier work by Herman, his first Broadway show in fact, Milk and Honey.

    Milk and Honey opened at the Martin Beck Theatre on October 10, 1961 and ran for a very respectable 543 performances. Set against the backdrop of Israel's struggle for recognition, the show starred Yiddish theatre legend Molly Picon, along with Metropolitan opera stars Mimi Benzell and Robert Weede, and garnered a Best Original Score Tony nomination for Herman.

    This current production launches the Winter 2017 Musicals in Mufti series at the York (mufti meaning "in street clothes, without the trappings associated with a full production"). The 12-member cast is led by American operatic bass-baritone Mark Delavan (Metropolitan Opera), Alix Korey (the delightful Yente, the matchmaker, from last season's Fiddler on the Roof) and Anne Runolfsson (The Phantom of the Opera).

    Alix Korey; courtesy of the artist

    Although Milk and Honey often gets lost in the list of Jerry Herman's bigger hits, a 1994 revival at Off-Broadway's American Jewish Theatre prompted a New York Times review by David Richards, which said: "...There is always Mr. Herman's score to soar to the rescue. I wouldn't want to dismiss Hello, Dolly! or Mame. But is it possible that his very best work came first?"

    The limited engagement of Milk and Honey runs through February 5 at the York Theatre Company at Saint Peters, 619 Lexington Avenue, entrance on East 54th Street).

    And, something else for musical theatre fans to look forward to in 2017 is Jerry Herman's score for Dear World, a musical adaption of The Madwoman of Chaillot, which played on Broadway in 1969 starring Angela Lansbury. Dear World, with Tyne Daly, is scheduled as the third of the series of Musicals in Mufti, playing at the York Theatre from February 25-March 5.

    2017-02-02-1486061368-8465384-TyneDalyHeadshotcopy.jpgTyne Daly; courtesy of York Theatre

    That makes a trio of Herman hits coming this season -- three times a charm!

    Cover: Bette Midler; photo: courtesy of Warner Bros. Records

    Helaine Feldman, a Contributing Writer for ZEALnyc, writes about theater performance and related features.

    For more features from ZEALnyc read:

    An Old Gem is Unearthed by the Mint Theatre

    'Dance on Camera' Film Festival Leaps into Lincoln Center

    Art Break: Combined Creativity--Comic Book Style

    Get Ready to Crow--It's the Year of the Rooster

    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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    At New York's Whitney Museum of American Art, the exhibit Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905-2016 which runs through February 5 is a not-to-be-missed display of films and film installations shaped by technology. Many of the most compelling pieces present images of cyborgs, hybrid figures which are part human, part digital or machine. These composite beings range from a 1970 recreation of the 1922 dance performance Triadic Ballet by German artist Oskar Schlemmer with its abstracted mechanistic figures to works by today's new media artists and filmmakers who explore how technologies have dramatically shifted our ideas about being human in a digital age.

    A startling work is Serbian artist Ivana Bašić's sculptural SOMA (2013), a digital 3D model of her transformed body which hangs loosely and limply like meat dangling on a suspended metal rod. The model, done in collaboration with 3D artist Mohammed Modarres, was made by creating a 3D scan of Bašić's body. Copies of the scan could also be purchased on the internet, allowing "owners" to manipulate them any way they chose as long as they informed the artist. Also in the exhibit was the artist's digital animation of her own figure dancing or doing gymnastic contortions which slowly morph into surreal and shadowy shapes.

    One of the most mesmerizing pieces is Andrea Crespo's dream-like digital video parabiosis, neurolibidinal induction complex 2.2 (2015). Sitting in a darkened room, viewers saw a sequence of images which were slowly displaced by the slow- moving vertical light of a scanner. Some of the images were hand drawn animated figures by the artist, and some looked like mysterious constellations and star-like specks of light in a digital galaxy. The texts were intriguing words and phrases--musings about how digital media are transforming us, our social world, and our universe: "you are multiplying" "diffusing," "replicating," "you are absorbed," "you are splitting," "replicating," "duplicating," "you are never alone," "always together."

    One of the wittiest works is Lorna Mills' video Ways of Something, Episodes 1-4 (2014-15) . The artist had asked a group of artists to provide their own one-minute artworks as a response to British art historian John Berger's 1972 four-part BBC television series Ways of Seeing. Berger's Episode 2 in the series was largely about how men view women, women view themselves, and women watch themselves being looked at. In the original, Berger closely examined paintings in the Western tradition but in Mills' version (which retains the original audio track), new media artists recast Berger's view and used digital imagery and webcam videos. The mélange included fleeting images of women in Playboy, mannequins, and even clips from early horror films.

    As part of the Dreamlands exhibit, the museum's program "Feelings Are Facts: A Neuro-Cinema" held on January 13 considered how the cyborg has become a "new paradigm for thinking about hybridity," and the ever-more blurred boundary the virtual and the real. California artist Lynn Hershman Leeson, whose work has featured cyborgian beings for over forty years, presented her short video Seduction of a Cyborg (1994). Though over twenty years old, it is still timely.

    In it, a young woman who has lost her sight undergoes an operation and through the use of computers, she becomes transformed and is able to have a new type of vision: by touching a computer monitor, she now experiences a simulated world. She soon becomes addicted to the virtual world, and the outcome is bleak. Her hearing becomes impaired, her eyes drop tears with water rising, and, as the narrator tells us, she "succumbs" to "a battlefield of degraded privacy, loneliness, terror." The substitution of the simulated world for our "real" one, the artist suggests somberly, can be a devastating experience.

    -- 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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    Last week writer Natasha Noman took to YouTube to formally announce that "lesbian porn is made by men, for men," bears no resemblance to real lesbian sex, and should pretty much be outlawed forever. (I may be paraphrasing a bit.) In her video, Noman also included several clips from lesbian porn scenes to illustrate the awfulness of male-directed lesbian sex. The problem is that some of those clips came from scenes that were directed by women.

    Naturally, female porn directors sounded the battle cry: How dare this porn outsider say that all lesbian porn is made by men, for men! Yet another ignorant attempt to malign adult filmmakers and lump us all in together! Female directors shoot feminist porn, and FYI we don't even care about the male gaze! Etc.

    This is exactly the kind of debate that compels me to throw in my two cents, even as better judgment warns me to stay out of it. I've learned the hard way that speaking truth to power in porn makes me feel a bit like James Cagney at the end of "White Heat" when he maniacally shoots at a tank of explosives and blows himself up (with the tank symbolizing my foot.) So on that note, here are my thoughts on female directors who shoot lesbian porn. ("Top of the world, Ma!")

    Is most lesbian porn made for men, by men?

    While it's true there are more female adult film directors now than ever before, most lesbian porn still caters to the dreaded "male gaze." This is because most porn consumers still happen to be men, and a lot of men like to watch hot porn chicks get down with other hot porn chicks. These guys don't want to watch "real" lesbians have sex; they want to indulge in their own lesbian fantasies because (surprise!) people jerk off to fantasies, not politics. And fantasies can often (always?) be irrational, politically incorrect, or just downright weird. (Incidentally, I know a married lesbian couple that only watches the type of lesbian porn that Ms. Noman finds so offensive.)

    When it comes to lesbian porn, does it matter if a man or a woman is behind the camera?

    Generally speaking, no. The studio, not the director, decides what the content should look like, what the theme should be, and often has final cast approval. That means if a studio tells a director to book Miss Acrylic Nails and Miss Big Fake Boobs for a lesbian porn scene, she has little choice but to do it. (If she objects to the studio's casting choices she might be perceived as difficult, and potentially lose out on future work.)

    Other factors that matter more than gender when shooting lesbian porn: does the director himself enjoy lesbian scenes? Has he studied the genre enough to understand it? Did he research what positions and sex acts lesbian porn fans like to see? Is there something presently lacking in the genre that he can help provide? When it comes to shooting great porn, attention to detail trumps gender every time.

    Why doesn't anyone make "real lesbian porn"?

    They do. Shine Louise Houston, a lesbian filmmaker who owns Pink & White studios, is one such director. Shine creates smart, interesting films with passionate, authentic sex scenes. She casts women of all ages, body types and races, and refuses to follow trends or shoot formulaic porn -- which may be one of the reasons you've never heard of her.

    Along with Shine, there are a variety of lesbian filmmakers offering up everything from rough lesbian sex to fresh-faced femme girls cuddling in their PJs. It shouldn't take much research to find something that rings true for you. The trick is not to denounce someone else's fantasy just because you don't happen to share it. There are lesbians who watch nothing but gay (male) erotica, and straight women whose porn tastes are strictly girl/girl. We like what we like, and having politically correct fantasies doesn't mean you win at porn.

    If there's one thing I've learned as a reluctant "feminist pornographer," it's that the question of gender is far less important than that of artistry. Adult film profits are steadily dwindling, and directors are under more pressure than ever to make movies cheaper, faster, and easier to edit. When directors of either gender are forced to compromise artistic integrity, the product suffers. I've been known to extemporize about my refusal to compromise, but there are moments when I've wondered what it is I'm trying to prove. Most people are quick to remind me that porn doesn't rank high on the list of noble causes, and if I want to be a real artist I might consider a different medium. (Perhaps one I can even talk about at family gatherings.) I've spoken with a few other filmmakers who struggle with the same thing: Is all of this really worth it? Am I kidding myself that porn can ever rise to the level of art for more than a fleeting moment or two? Should I stop fighting conventional wisdom and defending my work against a seemingly-endless stream of ill-will?

    For reasons I don't fully understand, the answer remains no. Despite my bouts of artistic fatigue and struggles with disillusionment, despite the infighting and outfighting and ridiculous industry politics, despite the mockery and isolation, despite that our paychecks will only keep shrinking and no matter how hard we work society still thinks we're doing it wrong, porn remains my art form and the hill I want to die on. See, Ma? I made it. Top of the world.

    -- 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 know I should be applauding.

    After 2016’s shameful Oscars blackout and the subsequent #OscarsSoWhite boycott over the lack of black nominees, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has done a complete 180 this year by embracing color in an unprecedented way. A record six black actors have been nominated, with three of them competing in the Actress in a Supporting Role category alone.

    Meanwhile, three of the nine Best Picture nominees (Fences, Hidden Figures, and Moonlight) feature predominantly black actors in the main cast. That’s definitely a first. Just three years ago, Lee Daniels’ well-received The Butler was completely shut out of the Oscar nominations, presumably (depending on whom you ask) because it had the misfortune of being released in the same year as the eventual Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave.

    But have we actually overcome? And if so, with Fences v. Hidden Figures v. Moonlight also recently facing off at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, why do I still feel like shrugging?

    Despite the obvious progress, closer inspection of the nominees reveals a troubling pattern. When it comes to black actors and the Oscars, a collectivist attitude continues to drive the Academy’s choices.

    In some ways, there’s been no progess at all. Every black acting nominee has been cited for a movie with predominantly black actors in the central roles (so-called “black” movies) or one with racism at its center (Loving). Two performers, Actor in a Supporting Role frontrunner Mahershala Ali and non-nominee Janelle Monae, even appear in both Moonlight and Hidden Figures.

    I suppose we should be thankful that none of the black Oscar contenders were nominated for playing slaves. (And if an old rape accusation hadn’t come back to haunt The Birth of a Nation auteur Nate Parker, that would certainly not have been the case.) There’s that.

    But I wish that just one of them had been nominated for a role she or he could have won over, say, Michelle Williams or Casey Affleck, who, perhaps tellingly, remains a clear lead-actor frontrunner for the spartan intensity of his Manchester by the Sea performance, despite sexual harassment allegations against him by two women who worked on his 2010 directorial effort I'm Still Here.

    The problem, however, isn't really with the Academy. Considering the options they were given, the voters did remarkably well this time. I commend them for pulling off one of the most diverse line-ups in the history of the Oscar nominations. The problem is with Hollywood. More than sixty years after Brown v. Board of Education integrated U.S. schools, Hollywood still has segregation issues.

    Casting directors continue to overlook actors of color for non-race-specific movie roles. One might get the impression that the only reason three black actresses are headlining box-office hit and Best Picture nominee Hidden Figures is because the demands of historical accuracy forced the hands of the producers.

    In some ways, 2017 is a step backwards from 2002, when Halle Berry and Denzel Washington took the lead acting Oscars for roles that, with some story tweaks, could have been played by Julia Roberts and Tom Hanks.

    While a biopic like Jackie had to be led by a white actress (Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was, after all, white), it's hard to excuse the whitewashing of the year's most honored film.

    La La Land nabbed a record-tying 14 Oscar nominations (only All About Eve and Titanic have managed to score as many), and it's likely to take Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress, among many others. Impressive as it is, the film has been rightly criticized.

    It's dominated by jazz music (a black music form, if ever there was one), yet the two leads, one of whom plays a jazz pianist, are white. The few black characters who do populate the movie are either incidental or peripheral. Despite his pop-star popularity and a decent performance, supporting co-star John Legend almost feels like a token big-name black inserted into the proceedings to give them a smidgen of color and credibility.

    Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are wonderful actors, but couldn't, say, Legend and rising How to Get Away with Murder and The Birth of a Nation star Aja Naomi King have been just as believable in the main roles. As Hidden Figures has proven, you can put black actors up front and center and still score a massive box-office hit.

    Speaking of Hidden Figures, the movie about three real-life black female mathematicians was at the center of the biggest Oscar-season gaffe so far. On the Golden Globes red carpet, former U.S. first daughter Jenna Bush accidentally called Hidden Figures "Hidden Fences" while chatting with Pharrell Williams, who produced Hidden Figures and wrote several of its songs. Interestingly, Michael Keaton made the same error while presenting Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in any Motion Picture.

    The online peanut gallery immediatly started screaming "Racist!" While I understand the outrage, I think it's misplaced. The slips made by Bush and Keaton are understandable when you think of the subliminal implications of the bigger Hollywood picture.

    Will Smith, Jamie Foxx and Denzel Washington vehicles aside, Hollywood seldom uses actors of color in substantial roles outside of aforementioned "black" films. So in a year with four "black" films in the Oscar-season discussion, we pretty much had those Bush and Keaton flubs coming. If Hollywood were less segregated, if black performers weren't banished mostly to "black" films and were more integrated into the movie mainstream, perhaps people wouldn't subconsciously blend "black" films into one.

    Despite the asterisk hovering over my enthusiasm, I do consider the diversity of this year's Oscar nominees to be a positive step. And on Oscar night, I'll be cheering as loudly as everyone else when Viola Davis picks up her supporting-actress prize for Fences. (Please God, let it happen.)

    But I'll also be hoping that someone in Hollywood will finally have the good sense to cast her in a leading movie role as dynamic and un-race-specific as her Emmy-winning one on How to Get Away with Murder. Annalise Keating is one of the most complex characters ever to hit TV screens, and she easily could have been played by Nicole Kidman or Julianne Moore.

    And they wouldn't even have been slumming. TV is no longer viewed as being on a lower Hollywood rung than movies. I like to think it's partly because, unlike films, TV is finally getting diversity right.

    May movies, and by extention Oscar, eventually get it right, too.

    -- 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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    The searing novel by Alice Walker that transformed your sense of the social world, the ancient flint arrowhead that transported your understanding of time, the tempestuous Hudson River School painting that showed you the divine in nature, are all extravagances unworthy of the support we call "public." Beauty - the ideas that convey it, the objects that carry it, the words that harness it - is out in the era of Donald Trump. Or at least, this is the insinuation of the President's team when they threaten to place the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts on the chopping block. In this surreal version of America-The-Great, the quest for the truth of us and for the best in us through our national letters and arts is deemed unworthy of recognition. But as the trenchant writer Audre Lorde has professed, "poetry is not a luxury." Recent psychological studies have borne this revelation out, finding that reading books (and perhaps especially novels) strengthens our most noble qualities, leading us to be kinder, smarter, and even happier.

    Reflecting on the nature and valences of our existence - who and why we are - is among the essential elements that not only make us human, but also make us citizens. Poetry, history, criticism, philosophy, novels, dramas, objects thoughtfully exhibited, and edifices tenderly preserved: these are the cultural goods, the collective riches, which reflect a nation's story, make a country distinctive, and weave together a larger global society of the human. These books, these essays, these artful things are where we meet the illumination of introspection, massage the tense muscles of moral fiber, and see our separate experiences as intermeshed. These cultural goods of the highest order should be fed by the common pot if we seek to nurture a rich, diverse present and future America.

    Our literary forebears recognized this fact. In the early and mid-nineteenth century, a whole generation of self-conscious young Americans fretted about the inadequacy of our nation as betrayed by the immaturity of our arts. In the hollows of New England, writers began to address the lack, hurling forth an array of stunning tomes. The Scarlett Letter, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Self-Reliance, Moby Dick, Huckleberry Finn, were all works of the imagination that sought to simultaneously translate local, national, and transcendent meanings.

    We still read those texts in the classroom as expressions of our national yearnings. To be sure, Hawthorne, Irving, Emerson, Melville, Twain and their set created classics without support from government agencies. The US was just in its infancy when these men were born. It took generations for our country to recognize the value of democratically funding cultural and intellectual production. The NEA and NEH, bold American inventions, would not emerge until 1965, when President Lyndon Johnson signed into law ambitious reforms of the Great Society. Medicare and Medicaid were among these, as was civil rights legislation and funding for public broadcasting. But if public support for the arts had existed in 1800, imagine our haul of talent. We might have added such depth, such range, to our shared interpretive heritage. (Toni Morrison, Louise Erdrich, Mary Oliver, and Joyce Carol Oates, and the list goes on, are all recipients of NEA awards.) Will we time-travel back to the days when the white, the male and the moneyed dominated the arts as practitioners and patrons? Or will we embrace the ideal of a democratic beauty that holds mirrors up to multiple worlds of inner light?

    Our best moments have been marked by radical ideas, stunning feats of oratory, and great machinations of imagination. When the revolutionaries who made this country a thing of its own gathered to endorse one of the most beautiful humanities texts of an age, they charged the deeply flawed but rhetorically talented Virginia statesman, Thomas Jefferson, with crafting the treatise. But one voice was not enough. This work of art was a national project. The Declaration of Independence had to be a collective endeavor, drafted by committee, underscored by many names, co-signed in spirit by the people. My ancestors were not represented in that Continental Congress. In an irony that we know painfully well with a debt to meticulous works of history, no African American had the freedom or standing to sign that day. But riding in on the coattails of Johnson's Great Society, any of us can hold the pen that knits our country closer together, and all of us are co-signers on our fellow citizens' masterpieces.

    The quest for beauty, for emotional and intellectual truth, binds us to the category "human." It chastens and arrests us. It elevates and connects us. It shapes us into a nation. When we support the common good by stirring together the cultural pot, we choose wings over walls.

    -- 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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    “This could be the mezuzah we put up because we never lived without a mezuzah to protect us. They always put up a mezuzah wherever they lived. Which was brave of my parents, considering that they were persecuted because they were Jewish.” So remarked Bella Epstein Seligsohn, standing at the doorway of Apartment 7 of 103 Orchard, her childhood home, fingering the painted-over casing containing the traditional parchment that Jews affix to their doorways. Though the family moved out over a half century ago, Bella returned to help the Lower East Side Tenement Museum create an exhibit focusing on tenement families in the decades after World War II. (This exhibit, the first in the country to tell the story of Holocaust refugees in America, will open in the summer of 2017.) Her vivid memories have been invaluable in helping us imagine a Lower East Side of the 1950s, home to a significant survivor population.

    Bella’s birth in 1948 made Kalman and Regina the parents of an American, but their American story really began in December 1945, when President Harry S. Truman issued a directive to prioritize the processing of displaced persons. “This is the opportunity,” Truman wrote, “for America to set an example for the rest of the world in cooperation toward alleviating human misery.” The country’s pre-existing immigration quotas limited the total number of refugees Truman could admit; so too did public opinion, which opposed altering the quotas. That month, a Gallup Poll showed that 95 percent of Americans surveyed did not want to change the immigration laws; moreover when asked which countries should be favored as sources for immigration, respondents chose Scandinavian countries. Fearing a return of the Depression economy after the booming wartime economy, Americans weren’t keen on the prospect of immigrants taking jobs away from returning soldiers.

    This domestic context clearly made it difficult for Truman to do more than expedite the granting of visas, and he repeatedly made assurances the he would not exceed the quotas. Yet, he fought against the imposition of stricter quotas, and emphasized broader humanitarian ideas: “I am informed that there are various measures now pending before the Congress which would either prohibit or severely reduce further immigration. I hope that such legislation will not be passed. This period of unspeakable human distress is not the time for us to close or to narrow our gates.” Truman’s directive ushered in 23,000 refugees, among them Kalman and Regina Epstein. And in 1948, Congress followed suit, creating the Displaced Person and Refugee Act, paving the way for 400,000 displaced persons to arrive by 1952, and establishing “refugee” as a legal term in American immigration law and practice.

    In April 1947, the newly married Kalman and Regina arrived in New York, met Kalman’s uncle Jacob and his wife Goldie, registered for English classes, and found their first jobs in the garment industry. A report from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society [HIAS], the organization that helped tens of thousands of refugees settle, tells us that both were “in good health” and “have made a good adjustment.” Regina and Kalman had survived the horror of the concentration camps. Buoyed by American freedom and a Jewish institutional network they had a new beginning. Bella worshipped with her father in synagogue, attended a Jewish day school, and also befriended Barbara, an African American girl, who became her checkers partner, and Rosetta di Benedetto, an Italian girl in the building. She listened to Paul Anka’s “Diana” on her record player, and in doing so brought American pop into the Yiddish of apartment 7.

    In short, Truman’s order succeeded with regard to the Epstein family and others. The pain and anguish did not vanish, but the opportunity to create new lives on American soil certainly had a part in “alleviating the human misery” they had faced. This environment nurtured Bella, who became a nurse and a mother to three children, who became doctors and nurses in turn, and collectively did their share to heal Americans of all backgrounds.

    In Europe, Nazis persecuted the Epsteins for their Judaism. In America, because of Truman, and more broadly because of the openness and protection of this country, they could safely put up a mezuzah. In boldly accepting the refugees of World War II, Truman made America more American.

    -- 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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    When a Cro Magnon rib cage can bring $500-5000 at an archaeological antiquities auction, or an inflatable orange plastic dog sells to major collector for $58 million, the value of art's capacity to restore the soul comes into question. Many of the today's master collectors--e.g. LA real estate entrepreneur Eli Broad, globalists Donald and Mera Rubell, hedge fund mogul Stephen Cohen, equity manipulator Leon Black among them--seem truly touched by the power of art, but their commercial counselors are far away from the checkbook.

    Those considerations, among others, are at the core of two surprising exhibitions at Bordeaux's always provocative Museum of Contemporary Art, or CAPC. Video artist Ali Cherri, considers a series of living, dead and modeled heads, drawing us to confront the nature of how we see our primordial and displaced predecessors, the actual people inside those museum heads, the sort whom ex-British Prime David Cameron warned were a "swarm of migrants" crashing at England's gates--a soft spoken version of America's latest fart into the face of immigrant souls.

    That's the top floor of the CAPC. Descend one floor and you find yourself surrounded by another sort of populist rebellion from another time that resisted the nexus of art and money. It flourished half a century ago in hippy art collectives of Southwest England, gathered together by a collaborative printing commune that called itself the Beau Geste Press. Surviving frugally outside the cash economy, they specialized in silkscreen pamphlets, posters and hand made books, passionately defiant of that era's slick commercial magazine world.

    Both shows lure us to reflect about what art objects mean to us personally, how they have come to made and whether art for the soul can truly be separated from how it is made and how we have come to discover it. The silkscreens of the 70s dared to be naughty in journals like Schmuck (in street Yiddish "dickhead) that celebrated actual erotic bodies as rebel flowers exploding the banal limits of respectable mass-market decoration. Art for people like Mexican architect Martha Hellion, in that moment of surely naïve exuberance aimed at a liberating unity of body and soul.

    Mexican architect and visual artist Martha Hellion drifted into publishing through working in the archetypal "underground" silkscreen paper Oracle. "We never went out to do our work. We are living our work. Making papers and books: It was to make productions that allow us to create and develop our work without being inside the trendy wave of the art market. We were making our own productions, our own books, sometimes without any money, and distributing them by hand and through the post office. It was a very intense time."

    One of the founders of Beau Geste Press, Hellion came to Bordeaux for the opening to join hands and inky gloves with a new generation of artist collectives in the Aquitaine region of southwest France who continue to produce both new silkscreen papers and to fashion contemporary sculpture that recalls the technology of pre-computer collectivist art.

    Back upstairs Ali Cherri's collection of primordial skulls gather themselves together to stare back with piercing blind eyes at those of us who come to visit, gaze, and often, to pity their stylish primitivism. Both in the collection of stone and bone heads Cherri picked up at auction markets, and in his dream-sequence film in the next room, he takes us into the eyes, the noses, the ears the brows and the teethless mouths of those beings. He bids us to free them from their static imprisonment in the sterile glass cases of Paris's grand museums (or of the Smithsonian), to confront both their lives and ours as visitors, to engage with them outside the archaeological collectors markets that have ossified their stories and rendered them safe.
    Produced jointly with Paris's Jeu de Paume museum, Cherri calls his work Somniculus, using a museum visitor as a sleeping voyager whose eyes are closed not so tightly as death requires but more lightly as during the fluttering dreams that guide us to explore both the living and the lost lives of our world.

    Cherri's presentation is the first of four CAPC expositions this year curated under the overall theme, "The Economy of Living Things," be they undocumented peoples on the move or birds in climate flight, visual stories told through the pathways of dreams, songs and stories, all aimed at penetrating and shattering the political boundaries constructed and defended by war and wealth.


    -- 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 Joshua Rosenblum, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, February 3, 2017

    Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin are performing all nine Bruckner symphonies over the course of nine evenings at Carnegie Hall, coupling each symphony with a Mozart piano concerto, led by Barenboim from the piano. Night six (January 25) of this historic Bruckner cycle--unprecedented in this country--meant Symphony No. 6 in A major, plus Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat major.

    The Sixth is rarely performed--the last three are the most popular. Some have even referred to it as the "ugly duckling" of Bruckner symphonies, but I doubt a single person in attendance Wednesday night would have agreed. Under Barenboim's leadership, at least, the piece was thrilling and consistently gorgeous. The shapely themes just kept unfolding. The first movement opens with a characteristically Brucknerian triplet accompaniment (reverently appropriated from Beethoven's Seventh) that sets up a broad, foreboding melody in the lower strings. Within about twenty-four bars, it flowers into a shattering fortissimo delivery of that theme by the brass. Sharp, breathtaking contrasts in dynamics were a hallmark of the performance; Barenboim is brilliant in his ability to shape phrases and control dynamics almost by willing it. He rarely beats time conventionally--it's more like a mind-meld with the orchestra, in whom he obviously has complete confidence. He makes fluid, floating movements with his arms, with occasional sharp gestures for syncopated figures or accents. At times he seemed to be just reveling in the sound and offering the occasional pro tip: hey folks, something really great will happen if you lean into this note and give it an accent. Yet his supreme control over the proceedings was never in doubt, and it yielded sumptuous beauty, grand soaring melodies, surging climaxes, and seamless transitions from one section to the next.

    The rapturous but lengthy second movement can seem static or even (dare one say it) boring in the wrong hands, but one could see that Barenboim had an overview of the whole vast terrain in his head the entire time; the result was a reading with a stately tempo but inexorable momentum and profound beauty. This movement in particular showed off the deep richness of the Staatskapelle's silky, perfectly integrated strings and the glowing, crystalline woodwind playing. The haunting third theme of this movement sounds distinctly Mahlerian, but the piece, completed in 1881, predates Mahler's First Symphony by seven years. (Interestingly, Mahler himself conducted the premiere of this work.)

    The third movement scherzo features two very contrasting sections that almost sound like they're from different pieces, but Barenboim managed to integrate them coherently, with an authority that seemed to will their fusion into one movement. The fourth movement searchingly traverses several remote key areas, but the home key of A major asserts itself suddenly and unmistakably in the coda. The brass, here and in the first movement, formed a cathedral-like edifice of sound, gratifyingly monumental, but stopping just short of harshness. It was as if, even at fortissimo, no one dared make a sound that wasn't impeccably beautiful in the presence of the maestro.

    The first half of the program consisted of the Mozart concerto. Barenboim faced the orchestra, standing in front of the piano to lead the orchestral exposition of the first movement, then sitting down for the solo piano entrance. His remarkable ability to elicit maximum musical results from the orchestra with minimal physical movement served him brilliantly in his role as pianist/conductor. While trading musical figures with the first violins, he merely had to glance at them sideways to create a fully engaged musical dialogue. After his solo cadenza, Barenboim simply shot his left hand high in the air, and the orchestra came thundering in with synchronous perfection on the cadential downbeat. Barenboim's playing in general featured impressive multi-timbral shadings and an impeccable technical mastery that enabled him to treat all the passagework as lyrically expressive statements and not just virtuosic fireworks. Both in his playing and conducting, he seemed to be defining before our eyes the highest standards of not just Mozart performance practice but beauty itself. The langorous slow movement had the feel of a sacred ritual led by an exalted master. In the last movement, Barenboim seemed to be asking a multipart question with each two bar phrase of the opening theme and then answering it with the cadence. Sometimes he changed the timbre of the orchestra just by looking at them. It's obviously an extraordinary relationship between conductor and orchestra, and the captive audiences this week are the beneficiaries.


    Staatskapelle Berlin in concert at Carnegie Hall, Wednesday, January 25, 2017. Daniel Barenboim, Music Director, Conductor, and piano

    MOZART Piano Concerto No. 22 in E-flat Major, K. 482
    BRUCKNER Symphony No. 6

    Cover: Daniel Barenboim and Staatskapelle Berlin at Carnegie Hall; photo: Steve J. Sherman

    Joshua Rosenblum, a Contributing Writer for ZEALnyc, writes on classical music performance, theater, and related topics.

    For more ZEALnyc features, read:

    Barenboim Delivers a 'Stellar Performance' at Carnegie Hall

    A 'Thrilling Start' to a Bruckner Symphony Cycle with Barenboim at Carnegie

    Dmitry Masleev Dazzles in His New York Recital Debut at Carnegie Hall

    Philip Glass Celebrates His Birthday with a World Premiere at Carnegie Hall

    St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble Brings Bach and Vivaldi To Life at the Brooklyn Museum

    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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  • 02/06/17--02:51: Sjón: Advice to the Young

  • Remember what excited you when you were a child, and carry that enthusiasm onwards. Award-winning writer Sjón here advises young writers not to be embarrassed by what initially inspired them: "All of us come to culture through trash."

    "Very few of us grow up in a castle, and have private tutors who teach us Greek before noon and Latin in the afternoon, and then we take piano classes and learn about classical painting." Don't spend too much time worrying about living up to certain cultural standards, and accept that culture exists on many levels, Sjón argues: "In my case, the impression that the Icelandic folk stories had on me, and at the same time I was highly impressed by the Belgian boy detective novels about Bob Morane. These two elements informed me as a reader. They excited me as a reader. And it's that excitement that I would like to return."

    Sjón (b. 1962 as Sigurjón Birgir Sigurosson) is an Icelandic writer, poet, playwright and lyricist. He received the Nordic Council's Literature Prize in 2005 for his novel 'The Blue Fox' ('Skugga-Baldur', 2003). Sjón has been active on the Icelandic music scene since the early 1980s and is also known for his collaborations with legendary Icelandic musician Björk and was nominated for an Academy Award as well as a Golden Globe for the song 'I've Seen It All' from the film 'Dancer in the Dark'. He currently resides in Reykjavík, Iceland with his wife and children.

    Sjón was interviewed by Bjørn Bredal in connection to the Louisiana Literature festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in August 2014.

    Camera: Jakob Solbakken
    Edited by: Sonja Strange
    Produced by: Marc-Christoph Wagner
    Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2016

    Supported by Nordea-fonden

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    By Christopher Johnson, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, February 6, 2017

    On January 26th, Carnegie Hall announced the appointment of American contemporary composer Philip Glass to the Richard and Barbara Debs Composer's Chair for the 2017-2018 season. And last week Glass celebrated his eightieth birthday with the world première of his Eleventh Symphony at the hall on January 31. Just before this momentous occasion, Mr. Glass spoke with me about the Eleventh, about its première, and about his long, fruitful and happy relationship with Dennis Russell Davies and the Bruckner Orchester Linz.

    ZEALnyc: Are there things that you particularly want people to know about the new symphony?

    PG: I think it should be interesting that this relationship with the orchestra has gone on for a long time. Dennis Davies has been the conductor there for fifteen years, and I've done a number of symphonies with them. I've developed a relationship with an orchestra that any composer would envy, and that I don't have in America with anybody--and very few people do. We just don't have that here.

    That can happen in Europe, and it's something that we don't talk much about, but having a regular relationship with an orchestra means that you get to know the players, When you're writing for them you're writing for specific people in the orchestra.

    It means also that you have a chance to develop an audience, and that happened very much for me at Linz, to the point where when they opened the new opera-house, I was commissioned to write the opening piece. By the way they have some very good composers there. But I had a big enough audience-base at that point, and they were interested in what I was doing. So I wrote a new opera with an Austrian writer, Peter Handke.

    You know what people always do with opera-houses: the first piece is almost always Die Meistersinger, and you can understand why. They spend all this money on the opera-house, and they don't want to take a chance on some piece they don't know. Well, Rainer Mennicken, who was the head of it, had a different idea: he thought he should have a new piece for the new opera-house, and they stipulated that they wanted everybody in the house to have a role--the ballet-company was there, the children's choir was there, everybody who worked there was in the opera, and they played it a number of times.

    Now, this tour by the orchestra is being brought about through the governor of Upper Austria, who's very proud of the work that they've done -- getting behind the building of the new opera-house and supporting the orchestra. So they have an eight-city tour in America, with an American conductor and an American composer. I'm not trying embarrass anyone, but.... [Laughs.]

    ZEALnyc: No, it's a huge distinction, and most composers can only dream of working in an environment like that.

    PG: It is! And it's a benefit to me beyond what you can imagine, because when you have a relationship with an ensemble, things work out in a very interesting way. For example, when we were rehearsing this piece--I went over for the rehearsals, which I have to do, of course. I presented ideas in terms of the performance which they hadn't even seen, even though I've been with them for fifteen years. Things I'd done with my ensemble which I didn't think I could try with an orchestra. And we actually took ten minutes off to work through how the music would be played, and they were completely enthusiastic about playing something new. You know, how great is that?

    ZEALnyc: No "been there, done that"?

    PG: None. As far as Linz is concerned, they've heard all the symphonies. In New York, we did have the Ninth, but I don't think the Eighth has ever been played here, and the Tenth has not been played here. The Sixth has, and maybe the Fifth. It's very spotty. I don't want to call anyone out, but there are some local orchestras that have never played a symphony of mine.

    But what I meant was, I could write a piece that was for the players, and would be interesting for them because they've played all the other pieces. So here's a new one, and they participate in the discovery of the music in the same way that I do. Well, it's not exactly the same, of course, but they have an anticipation for it. This is not something that they dread doing, and you have to force them to do--they want to do it. I walk in there, and you know how orchestras applaud by tapping their bows and things. When you get that applause it's very warm, and when I went to the first rehearsals, that's how they greeted me.

    ZEALnyc: So what's the new piece like?

    PG: I'm working in a kind of a "late-period" style now, if you might call it that. It's related to recent operas--Appomattox and The Trial of Kafka, which are both very political pieces. I've done a good bit of that kind of work, going back to Satyagraha, with Gandhi, so that's always been something I've been interested in. It helps to connect the work to the contemporary world.

    But symphonies don't usually have a program, and Symphony No. 11 has no actual program--it doesn't tell a story of any kind--but it's working within the language that I'm working in right now. This has to do not so much with chords that have names, but more with how pieces develop melodically, and how the horizontal movement of the music generates the harmonic world that the piece lives in.

    It's a little bit different than the other way around, but it's just the way I've learned to work, so that pieces don't belong to chords; they belong to lines of music, and that's very true of this piece. It does use a contrabass clarinet, and some of the instruments you may not find in some of the Romantic orchestras, but you can find in modern pieces. A lot of people don't have contrabass clarinets--you just don't find them--but people are making them, and it adds to the color of the orchestra. It doesn't have two piccolos, but it has seven percussionists.

    ZEALnyc: Wow!

    PG: Yeah, I know that's a lot. I'll have to cut it down a little bit when it leaves Linz--can you believe it? I have seven players, plus a timpanist, so there's eight people there, and some of them are women, and some of them are men, and they're all back there playing. It's a big lineup. So it's an interesting piece: I spent two or three days with them going over a lot of it, and it has a freshness which I'm pleased with.

    ZEALnyc: Well, that begins to answer the question that's on everybody's mind--as you look at eighty years, do you start thinking of yourself in larger terms, in terms of the whole canon?

    PG: Well, I started to think recently, because we published the first ten symphonies in a box of CDs--now, I can't say that I've sat down and listened to all ten of them, but some people have, and if you want to you can. You can listen to them backwards and forwards, ten to one or one to ten. I know some people who are very interested in this music will do that.

    But I look at the music and look at the scores, I remember what I've done. But I've also begun to think about a large body of work in one medium, like the symphony orchestra, or operas, or piano pieces, or ballets, or concertos. I've worked in all those mediums, and at this point in my life there are significant numbers of them, so that the pieces relate not only to the time-period I'm writing in, but also to the lineage of music that they are part of.

    ZEALnyc: Where would you place them in relation to, say, Beethoven, Shostakovich,...?

    PG: [Laughs.] Well, you mention two of the best symphony-composers that ever lived, so what am I supposed to say?

    ZEALnyc: You're already two up on Beethoven.

    PG: I know, but only because he died fairly young! In fact, after I finished Nine, Dennis Davies was teasing me, and he said "Well, now what are you gonna do?", and I said, "Well, I'm gonna to do Ten immediately," and I wrote it within eight weeks, so we could get over that. I wasn't looking to have an Unfinished Symphony on my hands. And I said, "OK, now you can wait to see if I get up to Fifteen--I think that's where Shostakovich finished." His late symphonies are wonderful.

    ZEALnyc: Oh, yes!

    PG: It's funny: I feel like a little bit of a dinosaur even writing symphonies. I have a few friends who write symphonies, but there are not that many of us.

    ZEALnyc: I was going to ask you if there isn't some kind of life-scale cognitive dissonance there, because you start out, and you're on the cutting edge of everything, and here you are now, this Grand Young Man, working in all the definitive canonic genres. I mean, is that a turnaround, or is it just a natural progression?

    PG: Well, I asked Dennis the same question some years ago: I said, "Dennis, why are you commissioning all these symphonies?", because he commissioned ten of the eleven. I wrote my first one when I think I was fifty-three, so I could easily have escaped the whole exercise at that point. He said, "I'm not going to let you be one of those opera-composers who never wrote a symphony." I said, "Well, you certainly have succeeded."

    I'm impressed that he stuck with it, and he got me involved with orchestral players and with the repertoire. As a young man I knew a lot about it. Not only did I go to music schools but my father owned a record-store. So I knew all about it. But I have entered into a relationship, into a living tradition, which I never contemplated doing.

    But here I am, and now Number Twelve is being talked about already. I won't say anything about it, because it's too soon, but I think there will be a Twelve.

    ZEALnyc: Our time's almost up, but I wonder what you're listening to right now. What's caught your ear?

    PG: [Long pause.] You know, it's funny, because I'm listening to a lot of things, but it's not concert music.

    I'm very interested in global music. I'm going down to Mexico in April to work with some Mexican-Indian people who live in the barrios and they don't even speak Spanish. I've worked in the fringes of the global-music world, and when I'm not listening to contemporary music--and there are some wonderful young composers in their thirties now, women composers, so things are happening right along - there's a lot of good new music around. But then I'm also listening to things from Africa.

    On the [Carnegie] program are three songs that I wrote for Angélique Kidjo. She's from Benin and she's singing in the Yorùbá language, and they're fantastic. The first translations she gave to me were in French, which I understood, but she wanted to do it in her own language. I had to phonetically study the language to figure out how the accents worked. We had a great time together, and in the end, she said, "Well, I can make it kind of fit, but I have to change a few things." I said, "Well, change them!", and she said, "Well, what can I do?" "Just pretend you're Billie Holiday, and you can do whatever you want." She stays very close to what I wrote, but I wanted her to bring her personality into the music, and she does: she's a wonderful performer, and I'm so pleased that we're getting to do it in Carnegie Hall.

    ZEALnyc: It'll be exciting to see. I've seen a little excerpt from it, and she looks very excited, but she also looks very respectful.

    PG: She's a very disciplined performer. She takes care of her voice, as any good singer must, and she respects the music profoundly.But she also has something to say. She can do all that and still be herself.

    ZEALnyc: Thank you so much, and happy birthday!

    Cover: Philip Glass; photo: Steve Pyke

    Christopher Johnson writes frequently for ZEALnyc about classical music and related performances.

    Read more from ZEALnyc:

    Philip Glass Celebrates His Birthday with a World Premiere at Carnegie Hall

    1690 'Auer' Stradivarius Returns to Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto, with Vadim Gluzman and Orpheus Chamber Orchestra

    Tanglewood 2017: Exciting Programming Under the Stars

    Broadway Scores at the Oscars

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

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    We met Jonathan Safran Foer, a star of American literature, who offers interesting perspectives on America's new president and the consequences Donald Trump will have on American culture. "The place for literature may be even more important than before," says Foer.

    "It's a very moving thing to vote. It's emotional, it feels good," says Foer, who tries hard to be an active political citizen and does not hold back on his support for Hillary Clinton. The shock of the election was great: "The first response among many of my peers was actually not exactly shock, and it wasn't anger. It was sadness." Many of Foer's friends cried, and the alienation and discomfort caused by the election is all the more upsetting because of the novelty of the situation. In the past, candidates have reflected party values, but as Foer puts it "Trump is so different. Nobody knows what his values are and nobody knows what appropriate means of resistance could be."

    The most upsetting question to Foer is that of the future: "What kind of world are we creating for our children?" However, with a known misogynist in the White House, Foer hopes the current political situation can generate resistance. "Just as the election awakened a kind of shame, it also awakened a pride we didn't know we had."

    While Foer sees that the voice of the author can drown in the media, he does see an important place for literature in the political conversation. A book, says Foer, is the opposite of a wall. "A book invites people in instead of keeping people out," inviting readers to make "leaps of empathy". And while the solution to the problems of race, class and democracy in America will never be empathy and compassion alone, Foer reminds us: "The solution will never come about without empathy and compassion."

    Jonathan Safran Foer was interviewed by Christian Lund at the Copenhagen Admiral Hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark, in February 2017.

    Camera: Theis Mortensen
    Edited by: Klaus Elmer
    Produced by: Christian Lund
    Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2017

    Supported by Nordea-fonden

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    This year's Academy Awards nominations honor many familiar names from the New York stage

    By Christopher Caggiano, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, February 7, 2017

    Since the advent of moving pictures, there's been a considerable amount of traffic back and forth between New York theater and Hollywood movies. That tradition continues to this day, as evidenced by the recently announced nominations for the 89th Academy Awards.

    It's no surprise that Broadway and Off-Broadway frequently feature some of the best performers and writers of any given age. And over the years, many artists have found success in both the theatrical and cinematic spheres. But theater isn't as close to the center of American culture as it has been in the past. So, it's hard not to think about this year's nominations as a validation of the great work that theater folk do, after so many years of feeling culturally marginalized.

    Here's a sampling of this year's Oscar nominees with Broadway and Off-Broadway ties.

    The big story at this year's Oscar nominations was the romantic musical comedy La La Land, which received a record-tying 14 nominations, including one for best picture. It used to be that a year couldn't go by without a musical garnering an Oscar nod, but movie musicals sort of disappeared for about 30 years. Then, when Chicago snagged the Best Picture Oscar in 2002, suddenly film musicals were back in vogue.

    La La Land seems even more remarkable, as it was written directly for the screen, as opposed to adapted from a pre-existing Broadway musical. This provided Broadway's rising stars, composer/lyricists, Benj Hasek and Justin Paul, with the opportunity to snag two Oscar nods for writing the lyrics (to music by Justin Hurwitz) for the songs "Audition ('The Fools Who Dream')" and "City of Stars." Pasek and Paul are also currently represented on Broadway by the hottest ticket of the season so far, the heartrending Dear Evan Hansen.

    Also from La La Land, Emma Stone garnered a nomination for Best Actress. Stone made her Broadway debut in the 2014 revival (of the 1998 revival) of Cabaret, receiving very strong notices in the process.

    For theater fans, one of the biggest stories to emerge from this year's Oscar nods is the fact that wonder boy Lin-Manuel Miranda has a chance to earn that most coveted of distinctions, the EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony). Miranda has won numerous Tonys, most notably for the smash hit Hamilton. He also won Grammys for the cast recordings of both Hamilton and In the Heights. He even snagged an Emmy writing music and lyrics for the 67th Annual Tony Awards. All that leaves is the Oscar, and Miranda seems a very strong contender indeed for his song "How Far I'll Go," from the Disney hit, Moana.

    One major point of theatrical interest this year is the film adaptation of August Wilson's Tony- and Pulitzer Prize-winning Fences. Even though Wilson passed away in 2005, he nonetheless received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Wilson is enjoying a good deal of interest this year, as his 1982 play Jitney is currently making its first Broadway appearance. Also from Fences, we have Oscar nods for Best Actor for Denzel Washington, who was last on Broadway in Raisin in the Sun, 2014, as well as Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Viola Davis, two-time Tony winner for King Hedley II and the 2010 revival of Fences.

    Another esteemed playwright who received a lot of Oscar love this year was Kenneth Lonergan, who received Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay nominations for his Manchester by the Sea. Lonergan was recently featured on Broadway in a revival of his 1996 play, This Is Our Youth. Recognized for their acting in Manchester By the Sea were Michelle Williams, who was Tony nominated for her remarkable turn in the harrowing Blackbird in 2016, and Lucas Hedges, who is currently appearing in the MCC Theater production of Anna Jordan's Yen.

    Other Oscar-nominated actors with a theater pedigree include Michael Shannon for Best Actor in a Supporting role in Nocturnal Animals. Shannon was a Tony nominee last season for his crackling performance in the smashing Broadway revival of Long Day's Journey Into Night. Andrew Garfield, a Best Actor nominee for Hacksaw Ridge, was seen on Broadway in the 2012 revival of Death of a Salesman.

    In the not-so-recently-on-Broadway department, we have Natalie Portman, Best Actress nominee for Jackie, who made what is so far her only appearance on Broadway in the 1998 revival of The Diary of Anne Frank. Nicole Kidman, who has also only graced Broadway once, also in 1998 in The Blue Room, is likewise nominated this year as Best Actress for Lion.

    And finally, perennial Oscar nominee Meryl Streep picked up a record-breaking 20th nomination this year for Florence Foster Jenkins. Although La Streep is rightly considered one of the best, if not the best, actor currently living, it's a bit surprising that she hasn't appeared on Broadway since 1977 in Happy End. (She has, however, appeared in a number of Off-Broadway productions, including Mother Courage and Her Children as part of The Public Theater's free series of productions in Central Park.) I know I'm not the only one hoping that she deigns to grace Broadway with her presence again sometime very soon.

    Cover: Lin-Manuel Miranda; photo: Matthew Murphy

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

    Read more from ZEALnyc:

    Hits by Herman Highlight the Season--and two are at the York

    Cuba's Pedrito Martinez--Percussionist and Vocalist Extraordinaire

    Philip Glass Celebrates His Birthday with a World Premiere at Carnegie Hall

    Celebrate Winter with Festivals in Canada!

    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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    By Joshua Rosenblum, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, February 7, 2017

    On February 4 at Carnegie Hall, the famously conductorless Orpheus Chamber Orchestra presented a performance of Tchaikovsky's beloved Violin Concerto with a twist: the soloist Vadim Gluzman played the piece on the actual instrument that inspired the composer to write the piece. The violin in question was owned at the time by Leopold Auer, who was the concertmaster of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Tchaikovsky wrote the piece for Auer to premiere, but the violinst, according to legend, declared the difficult work to be unplayable, and though he eventually warmed to it, Tchaikovsky didn't live to hear him perform it.

    Gluzman, the current proprietor of the very same 1690 Stradivarius, can no doubt give a spectacular rendition of the piece on any instrument, but these special circumstances turned this performance into something resembling a holy ritual. The audience was rapt as Gluzman drew dark, rich, opulent sound out of the violin, playing with pure, sweet intonation and no-nonsense phrasing. He let the piece speak for itself, which it did gloriously, and every note of the blisteringly fast runs rang out sonorously. His playing seemed almost frictionless, with no harsh attacks and nearly imperceptible bow changes. Gluzman gave a refreshingly unsyrupy rendering of the second movement's gorgeous, singing melody. Even when he stretched the phrases slightly it didn't seem indulgent. Somehow the orchestra stayed with him in his bat-out-of-hell approach to the last movement, whose main theme seemed faster every time it reappeared. The call and response woodwind figures in the lyrical interludes were particularly well-shaped, and the headlong lunge to the end was electrifying.

    The amazing precision of ensemble that Orpheus displays without benefit of a conductor remains a marvel. The orchestra opened the program with Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 3 in A minor ("Scottish"), and the level of personal commitment from the players was immediately obvious. With nobody on the podium waving a stick, each orchestra member is more deeply involved, both musically and physically. Although this symphony is not one of the more overtly thrilling items in the repertoire, the players treated the musical materials reverentially, with the kind of subtle shadings and shaping one associates with a charismatic conductor. The transitions between sections of different tempos were done seamlessly, and the rhythmically vigorous passages came off with fireworks and verve. The concertmaster (it was a different player for each piece) clearly played a leadership role, but there was no obvious bobbing up and down to provide the beat--it was thoroughly a group endeavor. The technically challenging second movement featured snappy dotted rhythms and ended with remarkably synchronous string pizzicato. The ensemble's warmly integrated string tone was especially apparent in the noble, regal third movement; the players made serene poetry out of the long lyrical lines of the opening theme. In the exciting last movement vivace, the ensemble did subtle bends of tempo and shifts of dynamics as a near perfect unit. It was a model of virtuosity, cooperation, and commitment.

    Preceeding the Tchaikovsky concerto on the second half was Michael Hersch's twenty-minute, eight-movement work end stages, an Orpheus commission and New York City premiere. Like his recent chamber opera On the Threshold of Winter, which Hersch described as a sister piece, end stages is about confronting terminal cancer. The first section opens with glassy sounding string effects, woodwind shrieks, and an unsettling low-register bassoon crescendo. Astringent harmonies and alternating gestures of pain and placidity contribute to the depiction of a world in turmoil. In the fourth movement, the woodwinds attempt a relatively normal sounding chorale melody, but the other instruments interrupt and then take over completely. Hersch has a formidable arsenal of modernist devices at his disposal, but it's not just a bag of tricks; he's expressing something profound and deeply personal with his inventive sonorities, textures, and emphatic gestures. As he put it in brief spoken remarks before the performance, there is a lot of friction between writing something that is completely private but that gets communicated to other human beings. This piece is not exactly a crowd-pleaser, but the audience could tell it took a lot of guts to write and they responded appreciatively to the authenticity.

    Orpheus Chamber Orchestra in concert at Carnegie Hall on February 4, 2017. Vadim Gluzman, violin.

    MENDELSSOHN Symphony No. 3, "Scottish"
    M. HERSCH end stages (NY Premiere)
    TCHAIKOVSKY Violin Concerto

    Cover: Vadim Gluzman; photo: Marco Borggreve

    Joshua Rosenblum, a Contributing Writer for ZEALnyc, writes on classical music performance, theater, and related topics.

    For more ZEALnyc features, read:

    Venice's Rich Musical Heritage Performed By An Array of International Artists

    Barenboim Delivers a 'Stellar Performance' at Carnegie Hall

    Dmitry Masleev Dazzles in His New York Recital Debut at Carnegie Hall

    Philip Glass Celebrates His Birthday with a World Premiere at Carnegie Hall

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

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    The soprano Saxophone has been the stepchild to its large brothers, the Alto and Tenor saxophones in jazz music. Despite a lineage that dates to the early twenties, the soprano was not widely used as a solo instrument in many early jazz recordings, with most soloists preferring the clarinet for its warmer, richer sound. The soprano is typically found as a straight barreled instrument although small curved horns that look like baby alto saxophones with a straighter crook are also in use. The saxophone was invented by Adolphe Sax in 1846. Modern soprano instruments have a range of between Ab3 to E6 pitched one octave higher than the tenor, but some skilled players can play in the altissimo register allowing them to play even higher.


    Sidney Bechet photo credit unknown

    It has been said that the great Sidney Bechet, a New Orleans born classically trained musician, discovered a quality soprano saxophone while on tour in England with Marion Cook's Southern Syncopated Orchestra, sometime around 1920. Bechet, who was a world class clarinetist, wanted a solo instrument that could better stand up to the louder brass cornets and trombones of the era. In the soprano, he found that the bright, piercing sound of the instrument had the strong, clear voice he was looking for and people started to notice. Bechet is considered by many to be the father of the soprano saxophone in jazz. While certainly the most celebrated player of his era, he was not the only practitioner of this quirky horn back in the twenties. The first record that I found featuring Bechet on a serpentine soprano solo was from Clarence Williams Blue Five recording of "Wild Cat Blues" recorded on July 23, 1923 in NYC. Boyd Atkins was famously heard several years later playing a momentous soprano saxophone solo while with Louis Armstrong and his Stompers on "Chicago Breakdown" from 1927. Duke Ellington would sometimes use multi- reed players Johnny Hodges and Otto Hardwick to play soprano as a section instrument in his orchestra, but on occasion the soprano was featured as a solo instrument as with Johnny Hodges beautiful work on "Harmony in Harlem" from 1937.


    Lucky Thompson photo credit unknown

    By the nineteen forties the premier practitioner of the soprano was the inimitable multi-reedist Lucky Thompson. You can hear some of his brilliant work while he was in Paris back in October 1940 on a session where he recorded the sensuous "Lover Man." Thompson became disenchanted with the music business in the United States and moved to Paris from 1957-1962. It was after all Paris that had so thoroughly embraced Sidney Bechet in the early twenties both because of his musicianship and because Bechet's Creole heritage had ties to the French language and to French colonialism in hometown of New Orleans. It was here that Thompson, though predominantly known as a tenor player, became more interested in the soprano and would continue to pioneer its use in more modern jazz. You can hear the man's brilliant command of this difficult instrument on such tunes as Ellington's "In a Sentimental Way" from his 1964 album Lucky Strikes.

    By the late fifties and into the sixties another young saxophonist was starting to go his own way on the instrument, abandoning his Dixieland roots and focusing exclusively on the high register horn with a more modern approach. Saxophonist Steven Norman Lackritz aka Steve Lacy is perhaps best known as the soprano's modern-day Sidney Bechet. His debut album was aptly titled Soprano Sax and was recorded in 1957. After playing with Thelonious Monk he became enamored with the quirky pianist's compositions and rarely performed or recorded without including at least one Monk tune in his repertoire. Lacy also adventured into the avant-garde and the experimental music scene. His work and the work of saxophonist John Coltrane on the soprano would influence legions of players that followed.


    Steve Lacy photo credit unknown

    Reportedly Miles Davis purchased a soprano for his saxophonist at the time John Coltrane, while the group was on tour in Europe in March of 1960. Coltrane started progressively using the straight horn and he soon after broke from Davis to form his own group with McCoy Tyner on piano, Steve Davis on bass and Elvin Jones on drums. At that time only Steve Lacy was actively utilizing the instrument in jazz. The instrument had little reach outside its limited use in the world of jazz until saxophonist John Coltrane made his ground-breaking album My Favorite Things using his soprano. The adventurous Coltrane made the soprano soar on this modal exploration of a Rogers and Hammerstein song from the Broadway show The Sound of Music. The song was transformed into a hypnotically driven, raga inspired chant whose melody was immediately familiar despite its wildly exploratory improvisational forays over a repeated vamp. It became an instant hit and a vital bridge to an expanding non-jazz audience. It also opened the doors for many future players to explore the transcendental, eastern inspired sound of this unique instrument. The multi-instrumentalist ( not yet Rahsaan) Roland Kirk played a manzello quite proficiently. The manzello is a King saxello soprano saxophone with an extended bell. Kirk made his statement on the instrument in the late sixties with his "A Handful of Fives."

    Since Coltrane, world and jazz music has seen a proliferation of players who have taken the instrument down new and unexpected paths. When fusion came on the scene in the early seventies, mixing the bombast of rock with the improvisational bravado of jazz, the soprano found its way into the music. Saxophonist's like Pharaoh Sanders, a Coltrane disciple, took the music into a spiritual mode allowing us all to "Astral Travel" with or without the aid of hallucinogens from his 1971 album Thembi.

    Multi-reed players who mostly played tenor would occasionally feature their soprano skills throughout their careers. Notable players like Zoot Sims, who came to the soprano relatively late in his career, did a beautiful version of "Moonlight in Vermont" from his 1976 album Soprano Sax. The masterful Jerome Richardson was no stranger to the soprano and his work can be heard from the early fifties into the late nineties on such big bands as the Mingus Big Band and Oliver Nelson's Big Band. His work is represented here as a featured solist in the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra on the song "The Waltz You Swang for Me" from the 1968 live at the Village Vanguard recording. At the same time Bechet devotees like Bob Wiber and Kenny Davern would keep the Dixieland spirit of the old master alive, although admittedly modernized, with songs like "Song of Songs" a dueling soprano performance from 1977.

    No list of soprano masters would be complete without the extraordinary work of the great Wayne Shorter. His legionnaire work with his band Weather Report and on his own solo efforts are trailblazingly beautiful. Perhaps one of his most memorable performances for me was "Beauty and the Beast" from his seminal album Native Son from 1974.

    Other notable soprano players included Dave Liebman, Joe Farrell, Gerry Niewood, Joshua Redman, John Lurie, Jane Ira Bloom, Jane Bunnett, Jan Gabarek, John Surman, Klaus Doldinger, Kenny Garrett, Steve Wilson, Sonny Fortune, Dick Oatts, Billy Drewes, Bob Sheppard, Chris Cheek, Chris Potter, James Carter, Jeff Coffin and Paul Mc Candless. The saxophonist Branford Marsalis has become a superb player on the soprano and has distinguished himself from a fine field of newer players. The avant-garde modernist Evan Parker has carved himself his own place with a sound like no other. The inimitable Sam Newsome is in a class by himself having taken the instrument into new areas of sonic experimentation and texture.

    In the field of popular crossover, soprano saxophonists that come to mind are Grover Washington Jr, Bob Mintzer of the Yellowjackets, and Jay Bechinstein of Spyro Gyra, and in the smooth jazz arena there is Dave Koz, Najee and of course Kenny G to name a few. Amazingly it is Kenny G's soprano saxophone on "Going Home" that has probably been the most played song on the instrument in its history! It is often used in China, even twenty-five years after it was recorded, to signal to shoppers that it is closing time and indeed time to go home.

    I could not have assembled such a well studied list without the generous help of saxophonist, arranger and educator Bill Kirchner, multi-reedist Scott Robinson, and saxophonists Michael Blake and Dave Anderson. To them I offer my sincerest thanks. With the above brief history, and acknowledging in advance to having undoubtedly left off some important players whom I may not be aware of, here are my picks for twenty-five great jazz soprano saxophone performances in roughly chronological order:

    Sidney Bechet "Wild Cat Blues" from Clarence Williams Blue Five; Sidney Bechet, sop sax; Clarence Williams, piano; Thomas Morris, cornet; John Mayfield, trombone; Buddy Christian, banjo. Recorded in NYC 1923

    Boyd Atkins: "Chicago Breakdown" from Louis Armstrong and His Stompers with Louis Armstrong, trumpet; Boyd Atkins, sop sax; Frank Walker, baritone sax; Rip Bassett, banjo/guitar; Earl Hines, piano; Albert Washington, tenor sax; Honore Dutry, trombone; Bill Wilson, cornet; Tubby Hall drums. Recorded in Chicago, Illinois 1927

    Johnny Hodges: "Harlem in Harmony" with the Duke Ellington Orchestra recorded in September 20, 1937 in NYC with Johnny Hodges , sop sax; Duke Ellington, piano; Rex Stewart, cornet; Cootie Williams, Arthur Whetsel, Freddie Jenkins, trumpets; Joe Nanton, Lawrence Brown, trombones; Juan Tizol valve trombone; Barney Bigard, clarinet; Otto Hardwick, alto and clarinet; Harry Carney, baritone sax; Freddy Guy, guitar; Billy Taylor, bass, Sonny Greer, drums.

    Steve Lacy : "Day Dream" from the album Soprano Sax recorded November 1, 1957 at Van Gelder studios in Hackensack , NJ with Wynton Kelly, piano; Buell Neidinger, bass; Dennis Charles, drums.

    Lucky Thompson: "In A Sentimental Mood" from his album Lucky Strikes recorded September 15, 1964 at Van Gelder Studios in Hackensack, NJ with Lucky Thompson, sop sax; Hank Jones, piano; Richard Davis, piano; Connie Kay , drums.

    John Coltrane: "My Favorite Things" for his album My Favorite Things recorded October 21,24 and 26th 1960 with John Coltrane, sop sax; McCoy Tyner, piano; Steve Davis, bass; Elvin Jones, drums.

    Rahsaan Roland Kirk: "Handful of Fives" from his album The Inflated Tear recorded November 27-31, 1967 with Roland Kirk, manzello; Ron Burton, piano; Steve Novosel, bass; Jimmy Hopps, drums; Dick Griffin, trombone.

    Jerome Richardson: "The Waltz You Swang for Me" from his work on the album Monday Night Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra live at the Village Vanguard album from October 1968 recorded at the Village Vanguard in NYC with Jerome Richardson, sop sax; Richard Davis , bass; Thad Jones, flugelhorn; Mel Lewis, drums, Roland Hanna, piano; Jerry Dodgian, alto sax; Seldon Powell, tenor sax; Eddie Daniels, tenor sax; Pepper Adams, baritone sax; Richard Williams, SnookyYoung, Danny Moore, Jimmy Nottingham, trumpets; Jimmy Knepper, Garnet Brown, Jimmy Cleveland, Cliff Heather, trombones.

    Pharaoh Sanders: "Astral Traveling" from his album Thembi recorded November 1970 and January 1971 in California with Pharoah Sanders sop sax; Lonnie Liston Smith, Fender Rhodes; Michael White, violin; Cecil McBee, bass; Clifford Jarvis, drums.

    Dave Liebman, Joe Farrell and Steve Grossman: "Brite Piece" from Elvin Jones Merry Go Round recorded Feb 12, and December 16, 1971 at Van Gelder Studios, Engelwood Cliffs, NJ with Dave Liebman, Joe Farrell and Steve Grossman, sop saxes; Elvin Jones, drums, Gene Perla, bass; Jan Hammer, electric piano; Don Alias, oriental bells.

    Here is a live performance of the group in France in 1972 unfortunately without the great Joe Farrell or Don Alias, and with Steve Grossman on tenor.

    Joe Farrell: "La Fiesta" from Chick Corea's Return to Forever recorded February 2nd & 3rd, 1972 in London with Joe Farrell, sop sax; Chick Corea, electric piano; Stanley Clarke, bass; Airto Moreira, drums and percussion; Flora Purim , vocals and percussion; "La Fiesta" starting at 38:00 minute mark

    Grover Washington Jr.: "Invitation" from a live broadcast on WBCN in Boston, Mass in Spring of 1973 with Grover Washington Jr., sop sax; Bill Meek, Fender Rhodes; Charles Fambrough, bass; Daryl Brown, drums.

    Wayne Shorter: "Beauty and the Beast" from his album Native Son recorded in 1974 with Wayne Shorter, sop sax; Milton Nascimento, vocals; David Amaro, guitar; Jay Graydon, bass; Herbie Hancock, piano and keyboards; Wagner Tiso, organ; Dave McDaniel, bass; Roberto Silva, drums; Airto Moreira, percussion.

    Zoot Sims: "Moonlight in Vermont" from his album Zoot Sims- Soprano Sax recorded January 8th and 9th 1976 at RCA Studios NYC with Ray Bryant, piano; George Mraz, bass; Grady Tate, drums.

    Bob Wilber and Kenny Davern: "Song of Songs" from a live performance in October 1977 with Bob Wilber curved bell sop sax; Kenny Davern, straight sop sax; Bucky Pizzarelli, guitar; Geroge Duvivier, bass; Bobby Rosengarten, drums.

    Gerry Niewood: "Joy" from his album Gerry Niewood and Timepiece from 1976 with Gerry Niewood, sop sax; Dave Samuels, electric vibes; Rick Laird, bass; Ron Davis, drums.

    Klaus Doldinger: "Ataraxia Part 1 and 2" from the album by his group Passport Ataraxia recorded in Germany 1978 with Klaus Doldinger sop sax and keyboards; Dieter Petereit, bass; Willie Ketzer, drums; Roy Louis, guitars; Hendrik Schaper, keyboards; Elmer Louis, percussion.

    Dick Oatts: "Ding Dong Ding" from the Mel Lewis and the Jazz Orchestra with Bob Brookmeyer recorded live at the Village Vanguard 1980 with Dick Oatts sop sax; Jim McNeely, piano; Rufus Reid, Bass; Mel Lewis, drums; Bob Mintzer, Steve Coleman, Gary Pribeck, Richard Perry, reeds; Bob Brookmeyer, trombone and arranger; Earl McIntyre, John Mosca, Lee Robertson, Lolly Bienenfeld, trombones; Earl Gardner, Larry MosesRon Tooley, trumpets; Stepahnie Fauber, French horn.

    Jane Ira Bloom: "The Man with the Glasses" from her album Mighty Lights recorded at Vanguard Studios in NYC November 17 and 18, 1982 with Jane Ira Bloom, sop sax; Charlie Haden, bass; Fred Hersch, piano; Ed Blackwell, drums.

    Chris Cheek: "Ice Fall" from his album Vine recorded 1999 with Chris Cheek , sop sax; Brad Mehldau, electric piano, Kurt Rosenwinkel, guitar; Matt Penman, bass; Jorge Rossy, drums.

    Sam Newsome: "Toy Tune" from the Orrin Evans Album Grown Folk Bizness released in Oct 1999 with Sam Newsome, sop sax; Orrin Evans, piano; Rodney Witaker, bass; Ralph Peterson, drums.

    Branford Marsalis: "The Ruby and the Pearl" from his album Eternal recorded October 7-10th, 2003 with Branford Marsalis, sop sax; Joey Calderazzo, piano, Eric Revis Bass, Jeff "Tain" Watts, drums.

    Paul McCandless: "May or Mai" live in concert with Antonio Calogero in Messina, Italy on November 28, 2007 with Paul McCandless, sop sax; Antonio Calogero, classical guitar.

    Kenny Garrett: "Detroit" from Seeds from the Underground released April 2012 with Kenny Garrett, sop sax; Benito Gonzales, piano; Nat Reeves, bass, Rudy Bird Percussion; Ronald Bruner drums; Nedelka Prescod, vocal.

    Jan Gabarek: live at Mai Jazz Festival in Stvanger Cocnert in Norway, 2013 with Jan Gabarek, sop sax; Rainer Brǘninghaus, keyboards; Trilok Gurtu, drums; Youri Daniel , bass.

    You may also like to check out my Twenty-Five Great Jazz Baritone Performances
    by clicking here. Or if your into jazz flute my Twenty-Five Great Jazz Flute Perfromances by clicking here.

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    The current mini-retrospective of renowned American artist Beverly Pepper (b. 1922) at Kayne Griffin Corcoran simply stopped me in my tracks. I've encountered on occasion one or two of her sculptures, but never seen an exhibition solely dedicated to her. This one, elegantly installed at Kayne Griffin Corcoran, is the first major solo exhibition of her works in L.A.


    Top: Installation view, "Beverly Pepper: Selected Works (1968-2015)" at Kayne Griffin Corcoran | Courtesy of Kayne Griffin Corcoran
    Bottom: Beverly Pepper, Drusilla Senior, 2014. Cor-ten steel.

    Upon entering the gallery's courtyard designed by James Turrell, you encounter several stainless steel sculptures made by Beverly Pepper in the late 60s and early 70s. These medium-sized sculptures, with their minimalistic geometric forms, have an unexpectedly theatrical effect. Their polished metal surfaces reflect not only the garden's luscious vegetation, but also mirror any curious visitor taking a closer look.

    To be completely honest, until seeing this mini-retrospective, I was not aware of Pepper's age. She is 94 years old, but seeing her recent works bursting with energy, I prefer to say that she is 94 years young.


    Top: Installation view, "Beverly Pepper: Selected Works (1968-2015)" at Kayne Griffin Corcoran | Courtesy of Kayne Griffin Corcoran
    Bottom: Installation view, "Beverly Pepper: Selected Works (1968-2015)" at Kayne Griffin Corcoran | Courtesy of Kayne Griffin Corcoran

    Once inside of the main gallery, your attention is grabbed by the monumental Cor-ten steel sculpture Drusilla Senior executed just a couple of years ago, in 2014. Only when walking around this seemingly simple oval-shaped structure do you discover its true complexity -- a rare combination of brutality and elegance, machismo and grace. In the same room is another large scale Cor-ten steel sculpture Dallas Pyramid (1971). It's hard to believe that it was executed almost fifty years ago. Its sharp, protruding angles stand in dramatic contrast to the soft curves of Drusilla Senior, the sculpture I spoke of before.

    There are a few smaller recent sculptures on display as well, some made of stone and Carrara marble. Knowing that Beverly Pepper has lived in Italy for most of her adult life, it's not surprising to see in her art the influence of Roman antiquity -- the ruins of amphitheaters, obelisks, temple columns.


    Installation view, "Charles Garabedian and his Contemporaries" at L.A. Louver
    At center: Charles Garabedian, Study for Illiad, 1991. Acrylic on canvas.

    The new exhibition at L.A. Louver pays a special tribute to the "idiosyncratic and compelling" art of Charles Garabedian, one of the best known Los Angeles artists, who sadly passed away last year at the age of 93. I first encountered Garabedian's work decades ago and I was immediately amazed by his ability to evoke the spirit of Greek tragedies in monumental paintings inspired by Homer's epics. There is something tragic yet naïve about his 1991 painting Study for the Illiad, populated by endearingly clumsy naked figures of men and women: standing, stumbling, falling, and laying down.


    Installation view, "Charles Garabedian and his Contemporaries" at L.A. Louver

    Charles Garabedian came to painting at the age of 32, after serving in the army in World War II, during which he flew numerous bombing missions in Europe. One could imagine the deep emotional impact on his psyche of observing so much death and cruelty. All of this profoundly informs the aesthetic and emotional content of many of his works.

    Installation view, "Charles Garabedian and his Contemporaries" at L.A. Louver

    The exhibition pays homage not only to Charles Garabedian, but also to a number of his contemporaries -- John Altoon, Tony Berlant, Richard Diebenkorn, Peter Voulkos, Ed Moses, and the list goes on. Some of these artists were his close friends. Officially, the exhibition opens this coming Saturday after a memorial celebration of Charles Garabedian's life at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica at 11am. However, if you're eager to see this exhibition at L.A. Louver Gallery, it's already open to visitors.
    Peter Voulkos, Anasazi (Stack S13), 2010
    On view in L.A. Louver's skyroom

    A memorial celebration for Charles Garabedian will be held on Saturday, 11 February 2017, 11am at The Broad Stage, 1310 11th Street, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Please call (310) 822-4955 to RSVP.

    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.

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    By Christopher Johnson, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, February 8, 2017

    The St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble opened its 2017 Baroque Chamber Music Series on Sunday afternoon, at the Brooklyn Museum, with a program of mostly familiar works by Vivaldi and Bach. Ho-hum? Not so much: of Bach's "Wedding Cantata" and second orchestral suite--the one with the famous flute solo--you can probably never have too much; Vivaldi's "La Follia," one of the great all-time foot-lifters, was even more rousing than usual; and the program's sole rarity, a Vivaldi motet of heart-stopping melodic invention and hair-raising harmonic daring, showed how much we still have to learn from a composer we presume to know altogether too well.

    The high-point of the program was "La Follia"--technically a trio sonata, but in its gypsy heart-of-hearts a set of variations on a tune that took Renaissance Europe by storm and kept it rocking for decades. (Imagine Thriller topping the charts for sixty-five years and still being covered by all the top bands three centuries later.) There is nothing particularly deep here--it's a simple set of chords with a rudimentary melody--but what Vivaldi does with it is astounding: kaleidoscopic changes of texture, little stabs of instrumental color that seem sharp and original even today, total exploitation of every instrument in the ensemble, even the continuo. And what these players did with it was extraordinary, from Krista Bennion Feeney and Mitsuri Tsubota's high-wire motivic juggling act on the violins, to John Feeney's wild-man bass-playing. And what can you say about Louise Shulman, a tiny, normally self-effacing musician, who came on with a zittern (she described it as "a Renaissance banjo") and proceeded to play it as if either she, or the instrument, or both, were about to go up in flames? Toes were tapping spontaneously all over the stage, and if the audience hadn't been so Brooklyn-polite, there would have been foot-stomping, yipping, and scarf-waving all over the house before the final variation, and an encore of the whole business wouldn't have been out of line.

    The rest of the program wasn't on quite the same level, but there was much to enjoy, and there were extenuating circumstances. Elizabeth Mann, the soloist in the Bach suite, for example, had broken her leg and was only one day out of her cast: you could forgive her the occasional wrong note or failure to keep up with fairly breathless tempi, in exchange for some nice rhythmic inflection in the Ouverture and a fleet, chipper Badinerie that, for once, sounded like actual banter. Melanie Feld did a nice job with the all-important oboe part in the Bach cantata, but the oboe is a penetrating instrument even in the kindest of acoustics, and the Museum's Cantor Auditorium is not consistently kind.

    The room--a handsome auditorium in the familiar modernist-geometric-good-Norwegian-wood vein--is similar in size and configuration to Rome's Teatro Capranica, where Vivaldi was working in 1723-25, when he most likely wrote the bulk of his motets, so it ought to favor repertoire of this kind. Mostly, it does--it's bright and dry in a way that pops all kinds of interesting instrumental detail, but there's enough wood on the stage-floor and along the walls, and enough of a wave to the ceiling, to make a decent overall blend possible--but still, strange things happened: the zittern, which ought to have been a vague, sexy buzz in this company, was clearly audible, and really quite thrilling, while the flute, the main event in the Bach suite, tended to merge with violins playing in the same tessitura.

    Up-and-coming soprano Anna Dennis was the vocal soloist, and here again, the acoustic may not have been ideal. Dennis's soft singing was often lovely, but anything above mezzo-piano threatened to glare, and the openings of both her pieces were pin-me-to-the-back-wall loud. There were beautiful things--the nearly perfect unison on "arbiter" (judge) and the seemingly endless, winding melisma on "fallaces" (deceitful), both in the Vivaldi motet, and some gorgeous long-held notes, ending in the most delicate of releases, in the opening movement of the Bach cantata--but at the same time, there was an overall sameness of approach, a generalized earnestness, that might have been appropriate to Vivaldi's lesson on the transient nature of earthly things, but was wholly out of place in Bach's sweet-tempered, delicately erotic, sometimes antic little shivaree. The words "jest," "delight," "laugh," "lips," and "breast" ought not to look and sound just like "prayers," "cries," "transitory," and "unclean." There may be an interesting compare-and-contrast to be done here, but the pieces still need to be separately and distinctly characterized. Dennis's best is very good indeed, but she didn't look like she was having much fun, and in the Bach, that really matters. (If you doubt the old bowser, check out either of Elly Ameling's benchmark recordings, and get ready to smile. Her first, with the Collegium Aureum, is a marvel of warmth and charm, and her redo with Marriner and the Academy of St.-Martin-in-the-Fields is sweet, too, and more tidily played. There's a reason why these recordings, the earliest of which is more than fifty years old, are still in print.)

    During intermission, a small boy wandered up onstage while the harpsichord was being retuned. Robert Wolinsky, the ensemble's stalwart keyboard-player, not only gave him a guided tour of the instrument but let him play a few notes. Take that, Manhattan!

    St. Luke's Chamber Ensemble in concert at the Brooklyn Museum, Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Auditorium, on January 29, 2017, at 2:00 p.m. Krista Bennion Feeney and Mitsura Tsubota, violins; Louise Schulman, viola and zittern; Myron Lutzke, cello; John Feeney, bass; Elizabeth Mann, flute; Melanie Feld, oboe; Robert Wolinsky, harpsichord. Guest soloist: Anna Dennis, soprano.

    BACH Weichet nur, betrübte Schatten, BWV 202 ("Wedding Cantata")

    VIVALDI Trio Sonata in D Minor, Op. 1, No. 12 (RV 63), "La Follia"

    VIVALDI O qui coeli terraeque serenitas, RV 631

    BACH Orchestral Suite No. 2, BWV 1067

    Cover: Krista Bennion Feeney (violin), Mitsuru Tsubota (violin), John Feeney (bass), Myron Lutzke (cello), Robert Wolinsky (harpsichord) and Louise Schulman (zittern).

    Christopher Johnson writes frequently for ZEALnyc about classical music and related performances.

    Read more from ZEALnyc:

    Venice's Rich Musical Heritage Performed By An Array of International Artists

    Tanglewood 2017: Exciting Programming Under the Stars

    Broadway Scores at the Oscars

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

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  • 02/08/17--06:17: Pornosophy: Addicted to Love
  • 2017-02-08-1486563075-8026940-220pxAddicted_to_Love.jpg
    A drink provides a buzz. There's nothing like a cocktail or two on a gray afternoon to lift the spirits. But for some people the buzz is not enough. They need to constantly refill their glasses. It's the same with pornography. It provides an escape into a larger than life world that literally pierces the veil of appearances. There's a rush that derives from seeing that which is normally hidden from plain sight. Artful pornography may even be found on coffee tables and there's sometimes a fine line between pornography and the kind of erotic in situ photography done by a Nan Goldin or Roy Stuart. But for some people the gentle enjoyment of nudity and voyeurism, that also attends to the longing for love objects that one can't have, is never enough. There are those who become as addicted to pornography as they are drugs or alcohol or sex itself. They're like crack heads who're caught in an insidious cycle in which they continually need a new hit. Gay Talese wrote a piece in The New Yorker ("The Voyeur's Motel," 4/11/16) about an innkeeper who had built spying devices into his establishment. Talese's description of institutionalized voyeurism tells the story of a porn junkie, someone who has to create a business to support his own habit. And with the rise of on- line pornography, there's been no dearth of opportunities, either in terms of chat rooms or web cam sites (where live interactions take place) for those who require constant stimulation to satisfy their needs. One characteristic of addiction is that the dose that formerly satisfied a need often needs to be increased and those who dabble in porn often find that they require increasingly stronger stuff, in terms of violence, explicitness or perversity in order to satiate their cravings. Freedom was the commodity that was being touted back in the 60's during the early years of the sexual revolution, yet for anyone who finds they're exceeding their credit limits as they sink further into addictive behavior, the feeling is the reverse of being liberated. Robert Palmer's hit song was "Addicted to Love."

    cover of Robert Palmer's single "Addicted to Love"

    {This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}

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    By Christopher Johnson, ZEALnyc Contributing Writer, February 8, 2017

    Well, folks, he did it: Philip Glass had his big birthday bash at Carnegie Hall on January 31, and he blew out all eighty candles. Not that there was actual cake--if they'd had a cake big enough to feed a house that size, packed with well-wishers, there wouldn't have been room onstage for the Bruckner Orchester Linz, at full strength and in fine fettle, nor for its chief conductor Dennis Russell Davies, never better and ready to party.

    Still, the program was the traditional three-layer affair, comprised of the New York premières of Glass's Days and Nights in Rocinha, his luscious tribute to Rio de Janeiro and its samba school, and Ifé: Three Yorùbá Songs, his collaboration with the great Beninese singer-songwriter and activist Angélique Kidjo, topped off with the world première of his Symphony No. 11. As icing on the cake, Davies and the Bruckner Orchestra delivered performances at once rich and tangy, befitting their hometown cuisine, and Kidjo, in magnificent voice and costume, was a knockout cake-topper.

    And here endeth the metaphor.

    Seriously, folks, it was quite a show. Days and Nights goes on a bit too long, and stops and starts again a few times too many, but Ifé and the new symphony have tremendous variety coupled with real structural drive, all culminating in thrillingly-prepared Pow! endings that Mahler or Prokofiev would have been happy to claim. And all of this played with rich, solid tone and total commitment by the orchestra, under Davies' visibly inspired leadership. In a recent interview, Glass told us that he had written the Eleventh with the Linz players specifically in mind, and it shows: these are terrific musicians, and in this relationship, both parties are honored.

    The big news, of course, is the symphony, which Glass himself marked out as something of a departure. All of his usual fingerprints--the repeating triadic patterns and cycling rhythms--are here, but the melodic material is explicitly lyrical, and longer-limbed than we're used to. The counterpoint Davies found in the piece wasn't strikingly apparent on first hearing, but the richness and originality of Glass's orchestral textures certainly were, and for the most part they were eloquent and often quite gorgeous: the opening of the second movement--a slow, soft, breathless affair, for two harps and muted tuba, that faintly evoked Copland and even Grieg--was a case in point, as were the brass chorales that kept swinging in throughout the movement. (Again, this was magnificently played, with special credit due to tubist Jernej Oberzan.) The outer movements featured Linz's percussion battery--all eight of them, and what a lovely noise they made! Glass told us that he would have to trim back the Schlagwerk for general orchestral use. Let's hope not. If anything, the final movement could stand even more, please, sir, thank you, sir.

    Ifé, based on three Yorùbá poems about the creation of the world, was a bit of a puzzlement in the absence of much information about the cast of characters and the underlying belief-system, but it, too had tremendous power, owing as much to Glass's grandly and--dare one suggest?--uncharacteristically rhetorical musical settings as it did to Kidjo's elemental performance. Here, too, there were long-line melodies and meltingly beautiful orchestral effects--the wind-writing and the soft Wagnerian harmonic shifts in the second song, "Yemandja," being the most memorable of many. Best of all, each movement had clear structural markers and a powerful, palpable trajectory, and each was brought to a firm, sometimes emphatic, conclusion. (The same was true of the symphony.) This may not be entirely new in Glass's music, but it is rare--and truly satisfying--to hear it implemented with such poetic conviction, across the board.

    Kidjo's performance seemed just a bit careful at first, and Carnegie Hall's sound-system did her no favors, but she was mesmerizing in "Yemandja," with all its lush imagery ("I am covered in pearls and have a majestic breast"), and she blew the place down with the final hymn of praise to the Rainbow Serpent, with its pounding repetitions, in which--to borrow from Glass's program-note--"modernist strategies" finally let loose, let rip, and did exactly what Nature intended "music with repetitive structures" to do.

    No matter how you felt about things in general, you just had to smile. It was a real nice party, and we all had a real good time.

    Philip Glass at his 80th Birthday Celebration at Carnegie Hall;
    photo: Pete Checchia.


    In Celebration of Philip Glass's 80th Birthday at Carnegie Hall on January 31, 2017. Bruckner Orchester Linz; Dennis Russell Davies, conductor and music director. Angelique Kidjo, vocals

    GLASS Days and Nights in Rocinha (New York première)

    GLASS Ifé: Three Yorùbá Songs (New York première)

    GLASS Symphony No. 11 (world première)

    Cover: Dennis Russell Davies conducting the Bruckner Orchester Linz at Carnegie Hall; photo: Pete Checchia

    Christopher Johnson writes frequently for ZEALnyc about classical music and related performances.

    Read more from ZEALnyc:

    Orpheus Chamber Orchestra Is 'Electrifying' at Carnegie Hall

    Tanglewood 2017: Exciting Programming Under the Stars

    Broadway Scores at the Oscars

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

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    This is the sixth installment in the series, The 3D-Materialization of Art, an ongoing survey tracing the new and growing movement of highly-reflexive 3D spectacle and narrative art and activism. Made by artists who distance themselves from the commercial uses of 3D in motion pictures, television, advertising and gaming, the new 3D artists employ the same technology that the commercial industries use. The difference is the 3D-materialization artists extend the dematerializing values and strategies of Conceptual Art to digital imaging, narratives, mythopoetics, satires and paradigms that promote progressive and sustainable political, cultural and natural lifestyles for the present and future. The preceding Huffington Post features in the series include commentaries and criticisms on the 3D art of Claudia Hart, Kurt Hentschlaeger, Matthew Weinstein, Jonathan Monaghan and the bitforms gallery exhibition, Post Pictures: A New Generation of Pictorial Structuralists A related article includes the digital art of Morehshin Allahyari in a particularly global feminist context.

    Monika Bravo, Tesserae 05, 06, 2017, media player, projector, SD card 1:37 min, installation view, Johannes Vogt Gallery, New York, curated by Octavio Zaya​, © ​Mari Juliano​.

    Much of the work discussed in this post can be viewed at the Johannes Vogt Gallery, New York, through February 26, 2017.

    It is rare that an art or a medium that is self-reflexive about its structure, its operations, its effects on the viewer, and about assuming a visual strategy that is largely abstract and process oriented, is also preoccupied with its own historicity, it's own capacity for pictorial representation, it's own conciliation of fiercely defended ideological oppositions. But these are just some of the contradictions posed by Monika Bravo's vector art of abstract-representation. Yes, abstract-representation sounds like a non sequitur, but the work that Bravo has exhibited at the Johannes Vogt Gallery on the Lower East Side of Manhattan is focused on making the conciliation of such opposites a presiding philosophy of vector art.

    Even the passage from the street into the Vogt Gallery imposes its own powerful epiphany about opposites in dialectical relationship, about ideas outliving their time yet resisting the new order, in this case the ongoing and likely unreconcilable conflict between an ascendant cultural relativism and the political orthodoxy set on obstructing that relativism's advance. For upon reaching the gallery's location near the intersection of Chrystie Street and Canal, my attention could not but be drawn across the street by the huge yawning portal of the Manhattan Bridge sitting like some giant sphinx of modernist American engineering guarding against a newer, likely foreign technology. As my eye traced the bridge's ascent to the American continent that Manhattan Island defiantly remains aloof from culturally and aesthetically, I became aware that Bravo, a Columbian immigrant-turned-citizen, introduced her art in a sanctuary city more attuned to global history and culture than to the the static provincialism of the continental United States, especially amid Trump's anti-relativist America. But as this particular series of work by Bravo's is largely apolitical, I was grateful for once to escape the dark cloud looming over the nation to partake in a meditation on what new media and ancient media together can tell us about time and consciousness.

    Inside the gallery, the digitally, seemingly-abstract animation art of Monika Bravo, and the inspired curating of Octavio Zaya, spoke to me of the vital new direction awaiting not just painting, but abstraction. That is abstraction that is both authentic and ironic (yet another pair to reconcile) in being taken up as vital components in the structure and language derived from the negotiation of abstraction and representation as renewed by the epoch of vector imaging. To understand that abstraction and representation are two signs of the same coin, means that we also come to understand that abstraction isn't a modern or Western invention, but a universal cognitive process that enabled the evolution of linguistic, visual and material expressions of representation since the dawn of human consciousness. In this larger sense of abstraction/representation as reciprocally interchanging within all meaningful structures, we mustn't get bogged down in the stylistic geometric abstraction that Bravo visits.

    Yes, 'visits' is one of the central objectives of this series of work, as Bravo's relativism is nomadic in terms of temporarily inhabiting a paradigm, rather than settling permanently into it as an imperative for mediating life or thought. It's a nomadic relativism that Bravo and Zaya instinctually kept crucially in mind when installing the work around the space in a kind of circle in which the abstract forms on the smaller screens open up to a large open projection both dissecting and circumscribing the space. In this projection, abstract motifs we may recognize from art history or design are superimposed upon large-scale pictures of nature and civilization accessed through Google Images. So as not to get mired in arguments of historicity (periods, styles, originality or lack of), which are secondary to this work and, anyway, have been done to death over the last century, Bravo is neither concerned with revising geometric abstraction as a nostalgic trope, as a zealous historicist might do, nor is she posing an ironic mimicry of historicism to critique the epoch of abstraction's indifference to cultural upheavals, as Peter Halley and Phillip Taaffe did in the 1980s and 1990s. Above all she is rejecting the snide authoritarian critics whose "painting is dead" mantras dismiss current artists' forays into abstract art as so much "zombie abstraction".

    If there are many historical aspects to the Vogt Gallery Tesserae installation, it is because Bravo's digital art surveys the full spectrum of visual language shared by painting and electronic screens to convey how capaciously the most time-honored modes of both formalist abstraction and pictorial representation can be adapted with vitality to new emedia while yielding a reflexive semiotic and methodology of imaging uniquely its own. Even the title of the work, Tesserae, meaning mosaic, conveys the process by which a great macrocosm of a literal idea or a realistic image is made up of many microcosms, some abstract, some pictorial. The first video on this page, Tesserae 06, 07, exemplifies the continuity between the visual processes of abstraction and pictorial articulation as an explicit outgrowth from form-to-structure-to visual language-to signage. The two subsequent videos, Tesserae 02 & 03 and Tesserae 05 & 0 6 predominately display familiar compositions of hard-edged geometric abstraction visited by animated pictures so discreetly integrated within the lines of the abstraction that they seem at first glance to be abstractions themselves.

    Monika Bravo, Tesserae 02, 2017, diptych, 2 vertical 70″ monitors, plexiglass, masking tape, wood, paint, media player, SD card 15 mins, installation view, Johannes Vogt Gallery, New York, curated by Octavio Zaya​, © ​Mari Juliano​.

    Here is where Bravo and Zaya ended the exhibition. But I chose to add at the end of this post a work from two earlier installations (at The Bard Graduate Center and at Christie's West Galleries) to emphasize through this rapid construction of pictures from component vectors to illustrate the full extent to which abstraction informs the basic components of pictorial representation -- fully comprising even what we call realism. (In fact, the earlier date of this work implies that Bravo first had to explicitly work out a scheme that grew full-fledged pictorialism, replete with resoundingly emphatic signage, from the most minute alignment of vectors in order for her to feel confident about displaying that same semiotic evolution, from abstraction to pictorial signage, more subtly and with greater nuance in the Tesserae.

    The Tesserae work only delineates a brief and recent cross section of the evolution from abstraction to post-abstraction picture making. But in doing so, Bravo and Zaya cite the various issues painting has attended to since it became a self-referential exercise at the end of the 19th-century. All of these styles, methods, techniques, ideologies -- despite their analog ancestry -- compose the newborn digital lineage for vector media and 3D animation. As a composite media integrating time in motion, Bravo and her peers in vector animation see themselves as inheriting art history as much as they inherit photography and cinematography. They indeed come closest to realizing Flaubert's 1852 musing that art would one day "take the middle ground between algebra and music". Today's 3D artists are certainly the legatees of Cézanne , whose each brush stroke in a picture represented a uniquely different perception of the spatial world in its own instant in time, and wholly different from what the intellect summarizes as the world of consistent duration. They also inherit the lessons of Cubism established by Picasso and Braque, with their economized time brilliantly strategized by painting successive views of a figure or scene from any number of perspective points in one picture. (After Cubism, the Surrealist photographers used multiple exposures to do much the same.)

    These are only the most renowned art historical instances to have compelled Bravo to turn to the century-old theory of time summarized by the metaphysician, Henri Bergson. Much the way that Cézanne isolated the timing of each brush stroke, Bergson saw time as we know it by experience as quantitatively different from time as we understand it intellectually to comprise both the instant of life in the living, and the totality of time we live out. Bergson explained that both the illusion of the instant and that of the totality, are but abstract concepts that tell us nothing about the duration of time that we experience as a bracketed continuity with a beginning and end. Bergson understood that art was changing our view of time by turning us away from the idea of time as an absolute, and toward a view of time as made up of bracket parts we remember and call durations. Even more popularly after the Lumieres, motion pictures represented a perpetual flux that, though the medium allowed replaying, the fragile and precocious materiality of cinema combined with the changing conditions (of light, temperature, temperament) that could never be rendered identically. Bravo and Zaya together chose to integrate the modern lessons about time derived from Cézanne, the Lumieres and Bergson in the Tesserae show. And they did this by choreographing the shadows and interactions of the viewers by the light of central overhead projectors become a variation on the performance art that grew directly out of the action painting of Pollock, while seeing themselves as breaking out of the frame of painting and photography to make their actions in time itself a feature of visual art.

    There is one problem, however that Bravo's vector paintings invite, at least to the impatient viewer. Anyone not aware of vector practice today, yet perhaps too-well versed in the history of modernist painting, might likely walk into the Tesserae installation (or its recreation), and despite the flickering light of video, the chromatic aura of the LCD screens arranged around the space, and the shadows of viewers integrating with (not merely obstructing) the projections draping floor, ceiling and walls, might fall prey to recalling the formalisms of Malevich, Kandinsky, Klee, Mondrian, Robert and Sonia Delauney, Reinhardt, Newman, Dibenkorn, O'Keefe, etc. Or they might invoke the history of the diverse, yet systematic hard-edged geometric movements of De Stijl, Suprematism, Constructivism, Bauhaus, Minimalism, Neo-Geo. Such historically adept viewers might in haste feel there is nothing new here in terms of painting and walk out.

    Monika Bravo, Tesserae ​03 & 0​4, 2017, diptych, 1 horizontal, 1 vertical 70″ monitors, plexiglass, masking tape, wood, paint, media player, SD card 1:37 min, installation view, Johannes Vogt Gallery, New York, curated by Octavio Zaya​, © ​Mari Juliano​.

    For the informed vector enthusiast, however, the Bravo installation sustains a long investigation not just for the history being echoed by a (fairly) new medium, but for its visually-enhanced allure, even a cultural aura -- things digital art often lacks. That allure and aura have nothing to do with the history being evoked, but the hypnotic resonance of alterations unfolding in each screen and projection that speak of relativities unleashed, even magnified, by the fluidity and virtuosity of the vector graphics that, in a single composition, can simultaneously imply legacies as recent as the invention of modernist hard-edged abstraction and as historical as the invention of the science of one- two- and three-point perspective in the Renaissance. Just the use or viewing of vectors makes an artist or viewer predisposed to historicism given that vectors proceed from the invention of perspective as a tool for art and architecture.There is also a sense that training in vector imaging, like training in perspective drawing, inclines us toward relativism. This much was discerned in 1938 by William M. Ivins, Jr., then the curator of prints and drawings at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, when he wrote that the Theory of Relativity that Einstein conceived would likely not have been postulated without an understanding of the shifting vision of perspective in the eye.

    More than any of her past exhibitions, the Tesserae show affirms that Bravo shares the historicists' agenda. But she also returns to the reflexive mirror of media about media to recontextualize the modernist lessons of abstraction as a philosophy of our individualistic relations to history and nature. Even the amateur historicist can see in the Tesserae work the legacy of geometric abstraction in art, along with the myriad variations formalist critical argot. Some of the language is long forgotten: the 'kinevisuality' of critic Umbro Apollonio (his name for Op Art); the 'iridescent interpenetrations' of Giacomo Balla; the 'luminism' of Larinva and Goncharva. The imagery of such artists, however, invoke, if only superficially, the linearity and overlapping of Hans Richter, Sophie Taueber-Arp, Frank Kupka, El Lissitzky, Diebenkorn. An earlier work by Bravo, URUMU, shown in 2015 at Christies West, New York, while superficially evocative of circuit boards, on the other hand recalls the rhythmic and highly regulated lattice paintings of Yaacov Agam or Carls Cruz Diez, that optically move with the eye in essays of intricate and relativist optical illusions. Nothing in Bravo is an optical illusion. It's all straightforward vector graphics, cinematic camera and google images. Solarization, rayograms and other Surrealist techniques appear to be at work but are not. It's all vectors programmed for effects, while often by chance appearing like an early employment with paint and optics.

    I asked Bravo whether she was interested in rephrasing Modernist painting with any particular formula of 3D particle systems, such as volumetric sampling, caustics,  subsurface scattering, or any specific program, technique or device. She answered:

    ""My process? I use a computer but it is a purely painterly process. Rather than employ a programmed script to execute each part, I implement manual execution within the computer frame. I create a method or system in my mind, and then it is executed first by hand and then by combining two programs: illustrator, which creates the vectors, and then after effects, which enables me to create the movement by hand. My choice of using the computer to still simulate Manual actions is what I consider rendering a materiality to the ones and zeros."

    "I come from the idea of painting and want to stay in the realm of painting by using time as a material while asking, what is a screen? What is the wall? Who decides sizes shapes or positions? And what are the limitations of each? And of course, the biggest question is, can painting, with the help of the computer still be a medium that reinvents itself?'

    Monika Bravo, URUMU (Weaving Time), 2014, 4 channel projection, projectors + media players. Installation view at "Waterweavers: The River in Contemporary Colombian Visual and Material Culture" held at The Bard Graduate Center, April - August 2014​, curated by Jose Roca ©Juan Luque. The installation was reinstalled for the exhibition "Colombia Recounted: A Project of Contemporary Colombian Art" at Christie's West Galleries, May 23 - July 31, 2015.​

    Bravo makes it clear that the reinvention of painting as a 3D medium and consciousness is the central issue from a variety of standpoints, one of which is its departure from art history to sketch out the origins of the parameters of the vectors found in the legacy that informs her work both structurally and as conscious history. "I've departed from Sonia Delauney in the fast google video. This comes after I referenced Delauney's color inspiration in URUMU, a 2014 series of glass studies for weaving time. I've also been influenced by Malevich, and am intrigued that so many of the early Modernists were somehow connected to ideas of the divine, the intangible, the non-objective, though history has stripped the spiritual component in art because it confuses it with the religious. I have since I remember always  been a very spiritual child, with all the good and terrible connotations it implies for the immateriality which connects us."

    One of Bravo's smaller works in the gallery's office is a Malevich-like composition on a 24" x 36" screen that can be hand held to view from different angles. It is a work that upon turning so that we peer at it from is side makes us aware of how rarely, if ever, we look at a painting or drawing not frontally, but laterally (at 90 degrees) from which we see only a surface line.

    Because the streaming motion, like a video, is so much more accomplished in terms of the fluency and subtlety of motion than was the primitive kinetic art of the 1960s, Bravo's work evokes the cinematic process brought to her work, not only by the screen, but as well by the pictorial motion she defines with the use of parallelograms and by the converging and diverging lines that launch perspective drawing into temporal pictorialism. Bravo sees the kinetic action of her screen version of painting acting as the programmed version of memory, while the breaks with that memory, the disjunction and "splicing" (to use an antiquated cinematic technique as legacy rather than process) to expand her media vocabulary into pictorial iconographies and semiotics, as well as the merging of paintings, cinema and video. Bravo's equation of media around the installation space (painting + animation + video + sculptural + performative space) ad up to visually essays on consciousness.


    Art historical influences, quotations and analogs: Kazimir Malevich, Suprematism, 1916, oll on canvas. Sonia Delauney, Untitled, 1947, gouache, colored crayon and pencil on paper. Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #79, 1975, oil on canvas. Peter Halley, Rogue, acrylic, roll-a-tex/canvas, 1986.

    "Time, as perceived in the Western tradition, is linear", Bravo adds. "It creates anticipation and a sense of narrative that has already been established in the history of writing and moving making, there is an anticipation of something that will end (apocalypse) and someone who will come again, (messiah) therefore all information within this timeframes moves in a perpetual straight line... the eastern traditions observe time, they follow nature, because it is wise, a river doesn't stop flowing between countries unless a mind will stop it.

    This is, by the way, the connection to the google images, a personal annotation of how the machine swallowed me, that I talk about nature, about circular times, and now my connection is through the drone images that pulsate so fast, like the times we are living, there is a contrast i wanted to create between western time (cinema) and painting (eastern time ) a painting requires time that it is not pre established, it is something that moves you or not like a sunset."

    When I asked Bravo what she takes from cinema, she cited the most painterly of recent film directors.

    "Greenway tried to explain the relationship and difference between cinema and painting in the 1990's when he was cutting and pasting elements in his frames. It was in The Pillow Book that I saw he was intervening on the screen by creating screens within screens. That made me stop and ask what defines the screen, the frame, the format? And I am still there going beyond the screen, going inside and outside the machine, the medium, the drawing, the wall, the color, the IDEA of what something is a structure and process. As in the Tao, you cannot name the Tao, a painting cannot be defined, when you do, it stops being what it is, something that moves you, that connects in other levels that most of the times are not tangible, whether rational or emotional."

    Also in The Pillow Book, Bravo foresaw the Tesserae series, though more as an external skin than a mosaic. "The medium, whether it is paint or screen, is like the skin of the body, a vessel, when we define it too much it loses its magic. I am just using and intervening the space beyond what is established, expected because my aim is to create an experience so others can be taken elsewhere. So again Greenway tried to depict this relationship or difference between cinema and painting. When I saw this back in the 1990's, I knew I was on the right path, I just needed to create my own language." 

    Create her own language, Bravo does and does admirably. But the one disappointment in the Tesserae series is that Bravo does not treat the pictorial imaging with as much elaboration, precision, clarity and love as she bestowed on the abstract components. Part of this is because Bravo relies on rather bland, appropriated imagery from Google instead of photographing or simulating objects as richly developed as the abstract videos, or as the imagery in URUMU (Weaving Time), her 2014, 4 channel projection seen in the fourth image here. Perhaps a more advanced and alternate pictorial reality awaits another Bravo visit to her modeling and effects program now that she has mapped out her scheme for reconciling the imagery of abstraction and representation.


    Is this a picture of reality or an abstraction after Sonia Delauney? It's both, with graphic diamonds vectored by Bravo into a public domain video of a shallow waterway acquired from google images. From Tesserae 05, 06, 2017, projected at the Johannes Vogt Gallery, New York.

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

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    By Dan Ouellette, Senior Editor ZEALnyc, February 9, 2017

    Unless something unexpected happens (and given this political season, it's a great possibility), 2017 will fill the air with more Cuban music by the best the island nation has to offer. Cuba has quickly become a destination for musical talent in the U.S. in search of the source of all popular music today. And then there are the U.S.-based artists who are celebrating the bridge being reopened between the two countries. A prime example: percussionist/vocalist Pedrito Martinez who has performed with a range of artists searching for top-tier percussion including Wynton Marsalis, Paul Simon, Eddie Palmieri, Paquito D'Rivera and Bruce Springsteen. He is also lauded by the great Latin jazz star Rubén Blades, who says, "In a musical world so filled with counterfeit output, it is refreshing to see a genuine talent like Pedrito emerge. Always curious, forever searching, restless, he's the type of artist whose product is forever fresh and vital."

    Pedrito, who calls New Jersey home these days, grew up in Cuba, was schooled in the Afro-Cuban tradition in the streets of his barrio, made the journey to the U.S. through his prowess on the congas, then returned to his homeland a few years ago to record his latest album...a true sign that the thaw has begun.

    ZEALnyc presents the life-story bio of the Cuba-born maestro of the beats in a five-part series; click on the links below to read each of the features.

    Part 1: Percussionist and Vocalist Extraordinaire


    Part 2: His Cuban Childhood and Influences


    Part 3: Moves to the U.S.


    Part 4: Returns Home to Record


    Part 5: Looks to the Future


    Pedrito Martinez performs with Alfredo Rodriguez on February 9 and 10 at Jazz Standard, 116 East 27th Street. For more information and to purchase tickets click here.

    Cover: Pedrito Martinez; all photos: Danielle Moir.

    Dan Ouellette, Senior Editor at ZEALnyc, writes frequently for noted Jazz publications, including DownBeat and Rolling Stone, and is the author of Ron Carter: Finding the Right Notes and Bruce Lundvall: Playing by Ear.

    Read more from ZEALnyc below:

    Virtuoso Pianist Marcus Roberts Uplifts the Art of Jazz With His Simpatico Trio at Miller Theatre

    Maestro Composer/Arranger Miho Hazama Leads Her Superb m_unit Ensemble in a Wonderland of Energetic Jazz

    Distinctive Cuban Pianist David Virelles Highlights ECM Records' 'Unroutine' Showcase Evening at Winter Jazzfest

    A new concert series 'Voices on the Hudson' premieres next week at City Vineyard

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

    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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