Thursday, June 30, 2011

Music review: Despite the wait, U2 finds true believers in Miami

Bono and bassist Adam Clayton of U2,‭ ‬ seen from the screen at Sun Life Stadium on Wednesday night.‭ (‬Photo by Gretel Sarmiento‭)


By Gretel Sarmiento


For a country said to struggle with numbers,‭ ‬math and science,‭ ‬nobody is getting U2‭ ‬360‭ ‬degrees wrong.‭

At least in South Florida,‭ ‬everyone got what they came for.‭

The electrifying‭ ‬Irish‭ ‬band’s‭ ‬360°‭ ‬Tour,‭ ‬with its supernatural stage,‭ ‬landed at Miami’s Sun Life stadium Wednesday night.‭ ‬One hour after the‭ ‬English‭ ‬indie rock band Florence and the Machine ended its magical opening performance,‭ ‬the knights from Dublin were still nowhere to be seen.‭ ‬The crowd grew impatient.‭ ‬When they finally came out,‭ ‬a little after‭ ‬9‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬it was with‭ ‬Even Better Than the Real Thing that they decided to open the night.‭

It was one big happy crowd,‭ ‬despite the few rain drops that did materialize,‭ ‬and the sticky humid weather.

‭“‬Thank you,‭ ‬Miami.‭ ‬Muchas gracias.‭ ‬And thank for your patience,‭” ‬Bono‭ ‬said‭ ‬between songs.‭ “‬Some of you were two years younger when you bought tickets.‭”

He was referring to his back injury and surgery,‭ ‬which caused the‭ ‬Miami appearance the band had scheduled for last year to be delayed,‭ ‬and those who had bought tickets months before to wait even longer.

During the show Bono spoke to the people,‭ ‬engaging them and getting up close and personal with them.‭ ‬This is,‭ ‬after all,‭ ‬a band that once shared its long locks of hair and is not afraid to now show its wrinkles.

‭“‬We are not ready to retire,‭” ‬said Bono,‭ ‬proudly,‭ ‬before breaking into‭ ‬I‭ ‬Still‭ ‬Haven’t‭ ‬Found‭ ‬What I’m‭ ‬Looking For from‭ ‬The Joshua Tree album.‭ ‬Here the crowd joined in as well.‭

The Edge and Larry Mullen,‭ ‬on the big screen.‭
(‬Photo by Gretel Sarmiento‭)


The set list included:‭ ‬You Are the Real Thing,‭ ‬The Fly,‭ ‬Mysterious Ways,‭ ‬Sunday Bloody Sunday,‭ ‬Where the Streets Have No‭ ‬Name‭ ‬and plenty more.‭ ‬But the biggest surprise of the night was a little love song called‭ ‬North Star,‭ ‬which,‭ ‬Bono said,‭ ‬has never been played before in North America.‭ ‬It is also being featured in the‭ ‬Transformers:‭ ‬Dark of the Moon‭ ‬film coming out soon.‭ ‬As all good songs,‭ ‬it will take time for it to grow on us.‭ ‬The crowd loved it,‭ ‬but not as much as old favorites.‭

With each song people of all ages grew more‭ ‬hypnotized.‭ ‬Those who had seemed shy earlier,‭ ‬with daylight,‭ ‬loosened up as soon as it got dark.‭ ‬They bounced from their seats and against one another while singing along and holding up their palms wide open.‭ ‬Nobody seemed to mind their personal space or if a boundary had been crossed.‭ ‬There were no boundaries.‭

It helped that the stage,‭ ‬a mechanic sea star-like creature nicknamed The Claw,‭ ‬felt like another member of the band.‭ ‬The steel creature,‭ ‬which cost‭ ‬$25‭ ‬million,‭ ‬was meant to deliver an intimate atmosphere.‭ ‬It did the job,‭ ‬and so far it keeps gathering attention everywhere its tentacles spread.‭

On this particular night,‭ ‬it appeared to be feeding off from the energy given by South Florida fans.‭ ‬The roof colors changed with each song,‭ ‬alternating between green,‭ ‬purple,‭ ‬red,‭ ‬orange and blue.‭ ‬Two bridges extending to the lucky mass at ground level allowed for some special moments,‭ ‬such as when Bono and The Edge reached out to each other from different sides while singing‭ ‬Until the End of the World.‭

The sophisticated giant TV screen delivered unimaginable surprises,‭ ‬including a personalized greeting from‭ ‬NASA Commander‭ ‬Mark E.‭ ‬Kelly‭ (“‬Hello,‭ ‬Miami‭”) ‬that shocked everyone,‭ ‬and another from‭ ‬Aung San Suu Kyi,‭ ‬the Burmese political prisoner.‭ ‬The sound emanating from the machine’s speakers was at times too powerful and drowned lyrics here and there.‭ ‬Even so,‭ ‬people followed the band,‭ ‬track by track,‭ ‬making up whatever lyrics they could not recall.‭

With all the amazing technicalities and special effects,‭ ‬The Claw still was no match for the‭ ‬thousands of passionate fans,‭ ‬who gave the band everything they had:‭ ‬their screams,‭ ‬voices,‭ ‬arms in the air,‭ ‬applauses.‭ ‬They even lent their cellphones,‭ ‬holding them up open to simulate a night sky full of stars when Bono asked them to.‭ ‬This was while a motivating‭ ‬Walk On played and Amnesty volunteers came out holding candles until the stage was all surrounded by them.‭

In the end,‭ ‬it wasn’t so much the brilliantly and expensively conceived stage that gave that intimate feeling,‭ ‬but the being there in the moment,‭ ‬as part of a sea of people who wanted the same thing:‭ ‬to be part of U2,‭ ‬in some way.‭ ‬That’s why they sang along and stood for most of the show,‭ ‬and why they went along with the commentary.‭

“Irish people are like Latin people who don’t know how to dance,‭” ‬said Bono,‭ ‬making the crowd laugh.‭ “‬Actually,‭ ‬there is an exception.‭ ‬The Edge can dance.‭” ‬He refused to give a demonstration,‭ ‬even though Bono practically begged him.‭

U2,‭ ‬above and below.‭
(‬Photo by Gretel Sarmiento‭)


For this show,‭ ‬the singer wore a black leather jacket while The Edge wore his serious face and dark beanie.‭ ‬The rest of the band,‭ ‬Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen,‭ ‬were dressed in white.‭ ‬It was not always that way,‭ ‬as an old footage played later on in the show,‭ ‬from the band’s‭ ‬Joshua Tree days,‭ ‬reminded us.‭ ‬In it,‭ ‬Bono lacks the cool glasses and The Edge wears a long brown coat and black hat.

Aside from the nostalgic film,‭ ‬the night carried other highlights such as when rays of light shot up from the top of the stage brightening the night sky.‭ ‬Another was when‭ ‬Bono decided to swing off the stage holding on to a red glowing microphone as if he were a kid riding an old car tire.

By the end of the show I really wanted to believe Lisa Hayes,‭ ‬a native of‭ ‬Missouri whose parents are Irish and who‭ ‬has seen the band at least‭ ‬10‭ ‬times.‭ ‬At the beginning of the show she and others had explained to me that a U2‭ ‬concert is really a religious experience and how people walk out feeling overwhelmed with a collective feeling of love and positive energy.‭

“You feel their music is about helping each other,‭ ‬not just stumping over people to get to where you need,‭” ‬Hayes said.

Surely this show,‭ ‬along with Bono’s screams for‭ ‬freedom,‭ ‬peace and love,‭ ‬had transformed us all and turned us,‭ ‬automatically,‭ ‬into better‭ ‬individuals.‭ ‬But one look at the traffic exiting the parking lot proved the whole theory wrong and had me wishing that The Claw had never lifted off‭ ‬--‭ ‬or at least,‭ ‬had‭ ‬swallowed us all.‭


Florence and the Machine performs under the giant claw.‭
(‬Photo by Gretel Sarmiento‭)



SET LIST


Even Better Than‭ ‬the Real Thing; The Fly; Mysterious Ways; Until the End of the World; I Will Follow; Get On Your Boots; I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For; The Promised Land; North Star; Beautiful Day‭ (‬with fragments of Space Oddity‭); Elevation; Pride‭ ‬In The Name of Love; Miss Sarajevo; Zooropa; City of Blinding Lights; Vertigo; I'll Go Crazy; Sunday Bloody Sunday; Scarlet; Walk On

ENCORES

One; Will You Love Me Tomorrow; Where the Streets Have No Name; Hold Me Thrill Me Kiss Me Kill Me; With or Without You; Moment of Surrender

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ArtsBuzz: Florida Stage subscribers to get arts deals; Wright to headline poetry fest

(‬Foreground to back‭) ‬Kate Eastwood Norris,‭ ‬J.‭ ‬Fred Shiffman
and Lourelene Snedeker in Michael Hollinger‭’‬s play,‭
Ghost-Writer,‭ ‬which premiered at Florida Stage in March.


Florida Stage subscribers to get special offers in mid-July

Following the unexpected news earlier this month that Florida Stage was filing for Chapter‭ ‬7‭ ‬bankruptcy and could not refund subscribers for their‭ ‬2011-2012‭ ‬season tickets,‭ ‬numerous cultural groups have united to help mitigate some of the loss.‭

The Palm Beach County Cultural Council,‭ ‬along with‭ ‬25‭ ‬organizations,‭ ‬has joined forces to present Florida Stage patrons with special offers,‭ ‬including discounts,‭ ‬two-for-one tickets and free tickets,‭ ‬which will be presented in a mailing to be sent to subscribers in mid-July.‭

Participating organizations include the Caldwell Theatre Company,‭ ‬Jazz Arts Music Society of Palm Beach,‭ ‬Miami City Ballet,‭ ‬and Palm Beach Opera.‭ ‬A full list of participating groups can be seen at‭ ‬www.palmbeachculture.com.

‭“‬Florida Stage was one of the few performing arts organizations in the nation that regularly created and produced new art,‭” ‬said Rena Blades,‭ ‬Cultural Council president and CEO,‭ ‬in a prepared statement.‭ “‬It’s a very big loss to the entire local cultural community and indeed to the nation.‭ ‬But,‭ ‬thankfully,‭ ‬overall,‭ ‬our cultural community is healthy,‭ ‬and cultural leaders have really pulled together for the Florida Stage subscribers.‭”

Florida Stage dropped the curtain on its‭ ‬24-year history June‭ ‬5,‭ ‬citing debts of‭ ‬$1.5‭ ‬million and diminished audiences since its relocation to the Kravis Center’s Rinker Playhouse.‭ ‬Its last production was a world premiere,‭ ‬Carter W.‭ ‬Lewis‭’ ‬The Cha-Cha of a Camel Spider.

‭“‬Nothing can replace what Florida Stage offered the community,‭”‬ Blades said.‭ “‬But hopefully,‭ ‬the generosity of the participating organizations will help reassure the subscribers that Palm Beach County culture is vibrant and their support is recognized and very much appreciated.‭”

For additional information,‭ ‬contact Larry Boytano at‭ (‬561‭) ‬471-1601.‭

Charles Wright.‭
(‬Photo by Nancy Crampton,‭ ‬from the Macmillan site‭)

Wright to headline at upcoming PB Poetry Festival

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Charles Wright will be the special guest for the eighth annual Palm Beach Poetry Festival,‭ ‬which runs Jan.‭ ‬16-21‭ ‬in Delray Beach.

Wright,‭ ‬75,‭ ‬is a Tennessee native who received his education at Davidson College and the University of Iowa.‭ ‬He has published several books of poetry,‭ ‬two volumes of criticism and has received the Griffin Poetry Prize‭ (‬for‭ ‬Scar Tissue‭)‬,‭ ‬ ‬the Pulitzer Prize‭ (‬for‭ ‬Black Zodiac‭)‬ and the National Book Award‭ (‬for‭ ‬Country Music‭)‬.‭

Wright’s honors also include the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award of Merit Medal,‭ ‬Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize,‭ ‬and election as chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.‭ ‬He currently teaches English at the University of Virginia.‭

The Old School Square Cultural Arts Center in Delray Beach will host the festival,‭ ‬which features workshops conducted by renowned and revered poets and teachers,‭ ‬talks on craft issues by two faculty poets,‭ ‬a panel on publishing poetry,‭ ‬readings,‭ ‬book signings and special events.‭

Performance poets Vanessa Hidary and James May are headlining the Annual Coffee House,‭ ‬which will be followed by‭ ‬a DJ dance celebration.‭ ‬A brand-new event,‭ ‬open mic nights at the Colony Hotel,‭ ‬has also been added. All workshops will run from‭ ‬9:30‭ ‬a.m.‭ ‬to‭ ‬12:30‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬and are limited to‭ ‬12‭ ‬qualified participants and three auditors to ensure a quality level of discussion and feedback.‭

The workshops are as follows:‭ ‬The Shimmer:‭ ‬Metaphor in the Machine of Words,‭ ‬with Kim Addonizio; ‬The Art of the Draft:‭ ‬Reading the Poem’s Palm,‭ ‬with Cornelius Eady; ‬Mother of Muses‭ – ‬Poetry and Memory,‭ ‬with Claudia Emerson;‭ ‬Three-Dimensional Poetry,‭ ‬with David Kirby; ‬and‭ ‬Word by Word,‭ ‬Line by Line,‭ ‬with Thomas Lux.‭

Three manuscript conferences are also available,‭ ‬for an additional fee.‭ ‬For more information on the events,‭ ‬or to apply,‭ ‬visit‭ ‬www.palmbeachpoetryfestival.org.

Biophilia‭ (‬detail‭)‬,‭ ‬by Walter Hnatysh.

FAU‭ ‬art‭ ‬professor wins South Florida cultural fellowship

Walter Hnatysh,‭ ‬a professor in Florida Atlantic University’s department of visual arts and art history,‭ ‬is one of‭ ‬12‭ ‬artists who recently received a South Florida Cultural Consortium‭ (‬SFCC‭) ‬Visual and Media Artists Fellowship,‭ ‬and the only recipient residing in Palm Beach County.‭

The‭ ‬2011‭ ‬fellowship,‭ ‬announced June‭ ‬14,‭ ‬was‭ ‬granted for paintings and drawings and‭ ‬includes a‭ ‬$15,000‭ ‬award,‭ ‬one of the largest provided by local art organizations nationwide.‭ ‬Hnatysh had previously received a SFCC fellowship in‭ ‬2007,‭ ‬for his digital photography work.‭

An exhibition featuring the works of the‭ ‬12‭ ‬recipients is scheduled to open at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood‭ ‬from Sept.‭ ‬9‭ ‬through Oct.‭ ‬16.

Hnatysh lives in Lake Worth and has shown work in‭ ‬20‭ ‬one-person‭ ‬exhibits and more than‭ ‬100‭ ‬group shows.‭ ‬He holds a BFA from Indiana University and an MFA from‭ ‬the‭ ‬Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia.

The South Florida Cultural Consortium is an alliance of the arts councils of Palm Beach,‭ ‬Broward,‭ ‬Miami-Dade,‭ ‬Monroe and Martin counties.‭ ‬Recipients of the annual awards are chosen following a two-tier panel decision process,‭ ‬which includes the input of regional and national arts experts.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Film review: Plummer a standout, McGregor less so, in moving 'Beginners'

Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor in Beginners.‭
(‬Focus Features photo‭)



By John Thomason


There’s nothing funny about an old man,‭ ‬struck with terminal cancer,‭ ‬who only finds the courage to admit that he’s gay after the death of his wife of‭ ‬44‭ ‬years.

No,‭ ‬this is not material rife with comic potential,‭ ‬but sometimes laughter is the only way to cope.‭ ‬In his nuanced second feature‭ ‬Beginners,‭ ‬writer-director Mike Mills recognizes this,‭ ‬collecting a small ensemble of sad,‭ ‬lonely people and finding the humor that arises when other emotions seem intractably out of grasp.

The old man is named Hal Fields,‭ ‬and he’s portrayed,‭ ‬with wry,‭ ‬elegant gallantry,‭ ‬by Christopher Plummer.‭ ‬He is both dead and not dead for most of the picture,‭ ‬thanks to Mills‭’ ‬nonlinear structure.‭ ‬Hal’s depressed‭ (‬and depressing‭) ‬artist son Oliver‭ (‬Ewan McGregor‭) ‬tells us in the movie’s earliest stanzas the key facts about his father,‭ ‬namely his belated sexual outing,‭ ‬his sickness and his demise.‭

But we spend the rest of the picture drifting between Oliver’s present‭ – ‬spent dealing with his father’s postmortem baggage,‭ ‬and shadowed by dad’s clingy Jack Russell‭ – ‬his immediate past with the suddenly out-gay Hal,‭ ‬and his post-World War II childhood,‭ ‬where he watched his parents keep up appearances in a seemingly loveless arrangement.

Plummer is the movie’s most tragic character,‭ ‬and he gives its most authentic performance.‭ “‬I don’t want to be just theoretically gay,‭” ‬he tells his son,‭ ‬and his complete immersion into the gay lifestyle‭ – ‬meeting a young boyfriend through a dating service,‭ ‬subscribing to‭ ‬The Advocate,‭ ‬screening‭ ‬The Times of Harvey Milk with a roomful of activists‭ – ‬is convincing in its youthful abandon.‭ ‬Plummer explores this environment with a self-actualizing,‭ ‬hedonistic smile,‭ ‬the way a teenager might when he first discovers his loins.

But‭ ‬Beginners is McGregor’s movie‭; ‬he’s in nearly every scene,‭ ‬and his listless performance tends to weigh down the proceedings.‭ ‬As in some of his other pictures‭ (‬Cassandra’s Dream,‭ ‬I Love You Phillip Morris‭)‬,‭ ‬he’s a blank slate that rarely becomes full,‭ ‬a cipher from an old Bresson film.‭ ‬If this were a movie that warranted inexpressiveness,‭ ‬he would make a model mannequin,‭ ‬but he’s supposed to be a compelling,‭ ‬brooding protagonist discovering love for the first time‭ – ‬in the form of Melanie Laurent’s Anna,‭ ‬an actress he meets at a costume party while dressed,‭ ‬amusingly,‭ ‬as Sigmund Freud.‭ ‬Instead,‭ ‬his work only feels static opposite the vibrancy of Laurent and Plummer.

McGregor’s work is best‭ – ‬and so is Mills‭’ – ‬when he’s not even on the screen,‭ ‬narrating photographic images of the past,‭ ‬present and future of the characters and the world around them.‭ ‬Here,‭ ‬McGregor’s sterile monotone works,‭ ‬presenting an unforgiving society free of sentimentality‭ (‬over a monochrome image of a grimy bathroom,‭ ‬he tells us that this is the only place his father could be himself‭)‬.‭ ‬This is also where Mills most flexes the stylistic muscle he discovered while filming music videos for the likes of Moby,‭ ‬Pulp and Air.‭ ‬These riveting photographic essays,‭ ‬undoubtedly influenced by the flipbook-style films of Chris Marker,‭ ‬suggest an experimental director burrowing through the commercial confines of Indiewood narrative.

And it makes sense that Oliver would deliver information in these distancing,‭ ‬Dadaist diversions.‭ ‬Like the enigmatic,‭ ‬inaccessible drawings he creates and the esoteric graffiti he plasters on public spaces,‭ ‬he’s one of the film’s many victims of ill communication,‭ ‬unable to say what he needs,‭ ‬when he needs and to whom he needs.‭

The two characters Oliver most talks to‭ – ‬Anna and Arthur,‭ ‬the Jack Russell‭ – ‬both suffer from their own aphasia‭; ‬the silent Anna has laryngitis when she meets Oliver,‭ ‬and Arthur is a dog‭ (‬though we can read his funny/heartbreaking thoughts via subtitles in a Woody Allen-like recurring bit‭)‬.‭ ‬And Hal,‭ ‬of course,‭ ‬went‭ ‬44‭ ‬years without saying what he felt.‭ ‬But he proves that it’s never too late to start anew,‭ ‬and to do so with a smile‭ – ‬even in the face of death.

BEGINNERS.‭ Director:‭ ‬Mike Mills‭; ‬Cast:‭ ‬Ewan McGregor,‭ ‬Christopher Plummer,‭ ‬Melanie Laurent,‭ ‬Goran Visnjic‭; ‬Distributor:‭ ‬Focus Features‭; ‬Rating:‭ ‬R‭; ‬Opens:‭ ‬Friday‭; ‬Venue:‭ ‬Gateway Theatre in Fort Lauderdale,‭ ‬Coral Gables Art Cinema and Regal South Beach‭ ‬18.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Art feature: 'Pop-up' show reveals health of area's contemporary art scene

The Old Get Wiser‭ (‬2011‭)‬,‭ ‬by Sam Perry.
(Photo by Jenifer M. Vogt)



By Jenifer M.‭ ‬Vogt

The contemporary art scene in Palm Beach County may‭ ‬not‭ ‬contain‭ ‬as much of the risqué or emergent as can be found in our flashy neighbor to the south,‭ ‬Miami Beach‭ — ‬and we really needn’t be jealous‭;‬ after all,‭ ‬we have‭ ‬old money‭ — ‬but‭ ‬there is a steady undertow of the new pushing towards the surface,‭ ‬and slowly‭ (‬and I do mean slowly‭) ‬beating down the fine art-and-antique image and recasting Palm Beach as a stylish hub for new art.

We’ve seen it most recently with the success of the Art Palm Beach fair,‭ ‬and alternative art spaces,‭ ‬such as the Mordes’s Whitespace Gallery.‭ ‬Elsewhere,‭ ‬the market for contemporary art has escalated to the point of absurdity.‭ ‬So,‭ ‬you couldn’t really think Palm Beach art collectors would be left out of the fray.‭ ‬It’s just that things move rather slowly here under the royal palms.

Yet,‭ ‬whether or not there’s interest,‭ ‬there can’t be movement or energy in art without the presence of working artists and Saturday night’s‭ ‬opening reception for‭ ‬Palm Beach Pop Up illustrated that there is a vital group of them here and that they’re doing work that merits attention.‭ ‬Unfortunately,‭ ‬gallery and exhibition space is still lacking.‭ ‬So,‭ ‬led by the efforts of Turkish-born artist Sibel Kocabasi,‭ ‬a group of‭ ‬18‭ ‬artists mounted a‭ “‬pop-up‭” ‬exhibit at an alternative space on PGA Boulevard in Palm Beach Gardens.‭

The show is a success,‭ ‬and Saturday night’s reception guests felt as though they could’ve been in Miami or New York City.‭ ‬The exhibiting artists are‭ ‬Alette Simmons Jimenez,‭ ‬Amy Gross,‭ ‬Carolyn Sickles,‭ ‬Dan Leahy,‭ ‬Freddy Jouwayed,‭ ‬Isabel Gouveia,‭ ‬Jacek Gancarz,‭ ‬Jackie Tufford,‭ ‬Jacques De Beaufort,‭ ‬Maxine Spector,‭ ‬Nancy San Pedro,‭ ‬Nune Asatryan,‭ ‬Sam Perry,‭ ‬Sarah Knudtson,‭ ‬Sibel Kocabasi,‭ ‬Skip Measelle,‭ ‬Stephan Tugrul and Ryan Toth.‭

Kocabasi provided the impetus and the energy to transform a thrift store into a white cube gallery,‭ ‬though only temporarily through‭ ‬this coming Saturday.‭ ‬She‭ ‬also served as curator for the more than‭ ‬50‭ ‬works in this show,‭ ‬which include sculpture and mixed media,‭ ‬drawings,‭ ‬and paintings.‭ ‬Kocabasi herself is a painter,‭ ‬and one of‭ ‬her works stood out as a stunning example of the use‭ ‬of‭ ‬color and texture in an abstract composition to evoke a mood.‭

Sibel Kocabasi stands in front of her painting,‭ ‬Black Dot Com‭ (‬2010‭)‬.
(Photo by Jenifer M. Vogt)

From a distance,‭ ‬Black Dot Com‭ (‬2010‭)‬ is a breathtaking work.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬another layer of interest becomes apparent when you move towards it and realize that the canvas contains thousands of tiny dots creating intriguing texture.‭ ‬Kocabasi remarked that she‭ “‬painted each one by hand.‭” ‬This makes the work not just visibly appealing,‭ ‬but adds a layer of complexity‭ ‬because of the artist’s process.

Two colorful paintings by Palm Beach born-and-raised artist,‭ ‬Sam Perry,‭ ‬stood out for their size,‭ ‬figuration and color.‭ ‬At first they seem somewhat caricature-ish with their bold,‭ ‬brightly colored figures.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬the subject matter for‭ ‬The Old Get Wiser‭ (‬2011‭) ‬is somber yet affirming.‭

‬Perry explained that he was inspired by the men in wheelchairs that he saw on Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach.‭

“Their nurses wheel them in.‭ ‬They don’t move around much anymore.‭ ‬They’re in that certain state,‭ ‬but I pay respect to them.‭ ‬If you look at the title‭ — ‬‘The Old Get Wiser‭’‬ — he’s not moving around a lot,‭ ‬but that doesn’t mean he’s not still using some higher intellect in there,‭” ‬Perry said.‭ “‬I think that’s a positive thing.‭”

Rhinoceros Horn-Bill‭ (‬2010‭)‬,‭ ‬by Ryan Toth.
(Photo by Jenifer M. Vogt)

Local artist Ronn Jaffe,‭ ‬who didn’t have work in the show,‭ ‬commented on a work by Jacek Gancarz titled‭ ‬Postcard Greetings‭ (‬2011‭)‬.‭

“It’s like an old greeting postcard,‭ ‬but it’s wonderful to show this deconstructivist building and how dilapidated it is.‭ ‬It’s a tongue-in-cheek kind of thing and I really like it.‭”

This work,‭ ‬which appeared to be one large postcard,‭ ‬was actually composed of numerous‭ ‬4-inch-by-6-inch prints pasted to the wall and assembled like a puzzle.‭ ‬Together,‭ ‬they depicted a photograph of a partially bulldozed strip mall and the words‭ “‬Greetings from Lake Worth.‭” ‬What made the work more interesting was that the individual postcard kept falling off the wall and onto the floor.

‭“‬I call it an‭ ‬interactive piece because the glue’s not holding and I’ve seen people coming and picking them up and putting them back on,‭” ‬Jaffe said.

Artist and teacher Sarah Knudtson contributed some beautifully delicate works on paper that had an uplifting and ethereal quality.‭ ‬Her grayscale color choices bleed into one another in a manner that infuses a sense of solemnity,‭ ‬causing one to realize that they’re beautiful in a quiet manner,‭ ‬like a slowly,‭ ‬lightly‭ ‬dripping stream of water.

Dorotha Lemeh,‭ ‬an associate professor of visual art at Florida Atlantic University,‭ ‬who was on hand for Saturday night’s opening reception,‭ ‬was drawn to‭ ‬Rhinoceros Horn-Bill‭ (‬2010‭)‬,‭ ‬a work by Ryan Toth that was comprised of a small sculpture of a bird jutting out of the painted wall.‭

“There’s an odd sense of humor going on here with the wings falling off of a skeleton bird that’s flying off into the unknown.‭ ‬It’s almost a comment on what’s happening with the situation with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,‭” ‬Lemeh said.‭ “‬With that kind of decay and us not taking care of our environment,‭ ‬it’s almost a wake up call.‭”

Performance and mixed-media artist Jackie Tufford
stands amid her series‭ ‬She Wore Wire Dresses‭ (‬2011‭)‬.
(Photo by Jenifer M. Vogt)


Jackie Tufford’s whimsical series,‭ ‬She‭ ‬Wore Wire Dresses‭ (‬2011‭)‬,‭ ‬stood out for both its beauty and pro-feminist stance.‭ ‬She creates intricate petticoat-type sculptures,‭ ‬which she wears when doing her performance work,‭ ‬which‭ ‬she didn’t do for the opening.‭ ‬When you look closely at these assemblages,‭ ‬you realize that they’re actually made from both ribbon and telephone wire,‭ ‬a melding of technology and femininity.

In her artist’s statement,‭ ‬she combines her wire sculptures and mixed-media canvases‭ “‬to question what it means to be a girl,‭ ‬a woman or a lady‭…” ‬engaged in various activities.‭ ‬She also points out that,‭ ‬though the assemblages appear quite delicate,‭ ‬they’re actually quite heavy and cumbersome when she dons them during her performance work.

Overall,‭ ‬the exhibit was a refreshing display of creativity and out-of-the-box thinking that encouraged contemplation and inquiry.‭

“The work that I’ve seen is very vivid,‭ ‬alive,‭ ‬and innovative,‭” ‬Lemeh said.‭ ‬“There are some pieces here that really take chances.‭”

Palm Beach Pop Up‬is on view only until next Saturday,‭ ‬July‭ ‬2,‭ ‬at the temporary Déjà New Gallery,‭ ‬which is located at‭ ‬2602‭ ‬PGA Blvd,‭ ‬Palm Beach Gardens,‭ ‬in a plaza on the southwest corner of Prosperity Farms and PGA Boulevard.‭ ‬Viewing hours are Monday through Saturday from‭ ‬11‭ ‬a.m.‭ ‬until‭ ‬5‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬For more information,‭ ‬please contact Sibel Kocabasi at‭ ‬561-667-3187.

Jenifer Mangione Vogt is a marketing communications professional.‭ ‬She’s been enamored with painting for most of her life.‭ ‬She studied art history and received her B.A.‭ ‬from Purchase College.‭ ‬Visit her art blog at‭ ‬www.fineartnotebook.com.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Music review: Passionate Brahms performances marred by piano tuning

Johannes Brahms‭ (‬1833-1897‭)‬.


By Greg Stepanich


Anyone who‭’‬s been to an arts camp or summer festival has heard that sound before‭ ‬– enthusiastic,‭ ‬friendly voices loudly acclaiming a performance by members of the team.

Tuesday night at Palm Beach Atlantic University‭’‬s Persson Hall,‭ ‬the applause‭ ‬from a home-court crowd‭ ‬was heard for two aggressive performances‭ ‬by faculty members at the summer Stringendo School for Strings,‭ ‬who played‭ ‬music by Brahms:‭ ‬his Piano Quartet No.‭ ‬1‭ (‬in G minor,‭ ‬Op.‭ ‬25‭)‬,‭ ‬and the Piano Quintet‭ (‬in F minor,‭ ‬Op.‭ ‬34‭)‬.‭ ‬And indeed these performances,‭ ‬featuring well-known local players as well as members of the Cleveland and Atlanta orchestras,‭ ‬were completely committed,‭ ‬engaged ones,‭ ‬in which the musicians could be seen attacking this seminal music with real passion.

But while there was much fine playing in both pieces,‭ ‬the evening was marred for me by an out-of-tune piano,‭ ‬with a noticeably flat C above middle C and what sounded like some shaky notes around it as well.‭ ‬The bad tuning threw off the intonation of the whole concert as the string players referenced‭ ‬a faulty model,‭ ‬the proof being in the soli‭ ‬sections without the keyboard,‭ ‬in which the strings could be heard in revised,‭ ‬balanced‭ ‬adjustment with themselves.

The G minor‭ ‬Piano Quartet,‭ ‬featuring the fine pianist Tao Lin along with violinist Jun-Ching Lin‭ (‬of the‭ ‬Atlanta Symphony‭)‬,‭ ‬violist Stanley Konopka‭ (‬of the‭ ‬Cleveland Orchestra‭)‬,‭ ‬and cellist Jonah Kim,‭ ‬began in sober style but very much out of tune,‭ ‬a problem underlined by the many unison octaves in Brahms‭’‬ writing.‭ ‬Amid the off-key proceedings could be heard some attractive playing,‭ ‬and by Kim in particular,‭ ‬who made the most of his solo passages such as the intensely emotional introduction of the second subject.‭

From the outset,‭ ‬the four players demonstrated a strong sense of ensemble,‭ ‬and they had a clear unity of interpretive vision.‭ ‬The Intermezzo second movement was more deliberate than light on its feet,‭ ‬and the trio had a markedly gentle quality as it opened.‭ ‬The‭ ‬Andante con moto third movement had the same kind of tense,‭ ‬big-boned reading as the other movements,‭ ‬and it proceeded inexorably and powerfully to the waltz-time march in the middle‭; ‬it was here that his performance really began to cook.

The Gypsy finale‭ (‬marked‭ ‬Presto‭) ‬of this quartet is a proven crowd-pleaser,‭ ‬and this foursome took it at a swift but not blistering pace.‭ ‬ All four did good work with the almost constant sixteenth notes that run through this‭ ‬movement,‭ ‬and pianist Lin did an expert job setting up the coda with murmurs that slowly built to the foot-stomping conclusion.‭ ‬The almost-full house at Persson Hall gave the players three long curtain calls.

The Quintet,‭ ‬which featured the two Lins and Konopka,‭ ‬with cellist Claudio Jaffe and Stringendo director‭ ‬Patrick Clifford on second violin,‭ ‬was similar to the Quartet in that it was large-minded and boldly colored.‭ ‬It‭’‬s a more cohesive piece than the Quartet‭ (‬as fine a work as that is‭)‬,‭ ‬but no less fiery,‭ ‬and the five players dove into it with intensity.‭ ‬So this was a first movement,‭ ‬leaving the tuning aside,‭ ‬that had sweep and majesty,‭ ‬especially in its main theme,‭ ‬aided by the group‭’‬s excellent ensemble.

The second movement‭’‬s mid-section had good duet work from Clifford and Konopka,‭ ‬and there was a kind of restless serenity about the playing as a whole,‭ ‬and a careful focus on the primary six-note motif that extends throughout.‭ ‬As with the Quartet,‭ ‬things really got moving in the third movement,‭ ‬easily the best-known of the four,‭ ‬with violinist Lin and Konopka setting up the military tattoo with memorable precision,‭ ‬and all five tearing into the big climactic tune with near-abandon.

The beginning of the finale is tough to bring off after that level of excitement,‭ ‬and‭ ‬it was a little unfocused here,‭ ‬but cellist Jaffe played the Haydnesque main theme with lovely tone and rhythmic sinew,‭ ‬moving the performance back onto the rails.‭ ‬Overall,‭ ‬intensity was the guiding principle,‭ ‬and again,‭ ‬the five musicians built powerfully to the ending,‭ ‬handling all of their very‭ ‬difficult,‭ ‬perpetual-motion parts with admirable skill.

It‭’‬s a testament to the seriousness and the strength with which this music was played that the out-of-whack piano was not as noticeable through both works as it could have been.‭ ‬But it still hurt the‭ ‬music,‭ ‬through no fault of the players.‭ ‬Before the final concert Tuesday,‭ ‬which includes‭ ‬the Schubert Arpeggione‭ (‬which in A minor‭)‬ and the Borodin Piano Quintet‭ (‬which is‭ ‬in C minor‭)‬,‭ ‬someone needs to tune that piano.‭

The Stringendo School for Strings faculty concert series ends Tuesday with violinist David Mastrangelo in the Sonata No.‭ ‬2‭ ‬for solo violin of Eugene Ysaye,‭ ‬and Mastrangelo and cellist Jonah Kim in the Passacaglia on a Theme by Handel of Johan Halvorsen.‭ ‬Joined by pianist Yueh-Yin Liao,‭ ‬Kim‭ ‬will play the Schubert Arpeggione Sonata,‭ ‬and Kim,‭ ‬Liao and Mastrangelo will be joined by violinist Belen Clifford and violist David Pedraza in the Piano Quintet of Alexander Borodin.‭ ‬The concert begins at‭ ‬7‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬Tuesday in Persson Recital Hall.‭ ‬Tickets are‭ ‬$15.‭ ‬Call‭ ‬803-2970‭ ‬or e-mail ticketcentral@pba.edu.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Weekend arts picks: June 24-29

Duke Ellington‭ (‬1899-1974‭)‬.

Music:‭ ‬After conquering the world of popular music,‭ ‬bandleader Duke Ellington began branching out in more ambitious directions for the concert hall.‭ ‬In‭ ‬1943,‭ ‬his suite‭ ‬Black,‭ ‬Brown and Beige had its premiere at Carnegie Hall,‭ ‬and in subsequent years there would be a landmark recording of the work with the great gospel singer Mahalia Jackson performing‭ ‬Come Sunday.‭ ‬And come this Sunday,‭ ‬Aaron Kula’s Klezmer Company Orchestra will present the work in what it believes to be its Florida premiere as part of an all-American concert at Florida Atlantic University’s Kaye Auditorium.‭ ‬Spirit of America,‭ ‬as the concert is called,‭ ‬also will feature‭ ‬Candy,‭ ‬a ballad by Glenn Miller‭ (‬also in a premiere‭)‬,‭ ‬and Aaron Copland’s‭ ‬Appalachian Spring suite.‭ ‬Singers Lisanne Lyons and Daniel Cochran join Kula and the KCO for the event,‭ ‬which begins at‭ ‬3‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬Tickets are‭ ‬$17-$38.‭ ‬Call‭ ‬800-564-9539‭ ‬or visit‭ ‬www.fauevents.com.

U2.

We last saw Paul Hewson and David Evans‭ – ‬aka Bono and The Edge‭ – ‬on the Tony Awards broadcast as they introduced a ballad from their musical‭ ‬Spider-Man.‭ ‬Next Wednesday night,‭ ‬we’ll see them again in their more familiar roles as the engines of the seminal rock quartet U2,‭ ‬which plays the Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens as part of its hugely successful‭ ‬360°‭ ‬Tour.‭ ‬English up-and-comers Florence and the Machine open for the boys from Dublin.‭ ‬Tickets for the‭ ‬7‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬concert:‭ ‬$30-$250,‭ ‬through www.livenation.com.

Brad Pitt and Cole Cockburn in The Tree of Life.

Film:‭ ‬Fans of filmmaker Terrence Malick know that he works on a different time schedule than other writer-directors and the results are completely outside the demands of commercial movies.‭ ‬His previous feature release,‭ ‬The New World,‭ ‬was six years ago,‭ ‬and frankly it was so ethereal that it tested the audience’s patience.‭ ‬Now in theaters is the remarkable‭ ‬The Tree of Life,‭ ‬also more of a tone poem than a conventional narrative,‭ ‬but compelling on its own terms.‭ ‬It is the story of a Texas couple‭ (‬Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain‭) ‬and their three sons,‭ ‬seen in the‭ ‬1950s,‭ ‬through the memory of their oldest boy,‭ ‬now grown‭ (‬Sean Penn‭)‬.‭ ‬Through a series of minor events,‭ ‬we see the sons grow up,‭ ‬come of age and learn about life.‭ ‬Ultimately,‭ ‬the film encompasses the very essence of life,‭ ‬exquisitely photographed,‭ ‬a Malick signature.‭ ‬Likely to challenge moviegoers who cannot adjust to its glacial pace,‭ ‬it contains some impressive performances and images and could well end up vying for Oscars early next year.‭ ‬In area theaters.‭ – ‬H.‭ ‬Erstein

Christina Caperna,‭ ‬Nicky Wood,‭ ‬Jessica Pereira,‭
‬Lanardo Davis,‭ ‬Alyssa Berger and Taylor Joseph Rivera
in Footloose, at the Maltz tonight and Saturday.


Theater:‭ ‬Most youth training showcases are aimed squarely at the parents and neighbors of the cast members,‭ ‬but the Maltz Jupiter Theatre’s Conservatory of the Performing Arts‭ (‬COPA‭) ‬often presents productions ever non-relatives can enjoy.‭ ‬This summer,‭ ‬the company of budding thespians in grades‭ ‬6‭ ‬through‭ ‬12‭ ‬is tackling‭ ‬Footloose,‭ ‬the stage musical based on the‭ ‬1984‭ ‬Kevin Bacon flick about an urban teen who tries to fit in when he and his mother love to a reactionary Midwest town where‭ ‬--‭ ‬yikes‭! ‬--‭ ‬dancing is forbidden.‭ ‬The score by Dean Pitchford and Kenny Loggins‭ (‬as well as several other composers‭)‬ includes such breakout songs as‭ ‬Let’s Hear It for the Boy,‭ ‬Almost Paradise and the title tune.‭ ‬For the cast’s weeks of rehearsals,‭ ‬it performs only twice,‭ ‬today and Saturday,‭ ‬at‭ ‬7:30‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬Tickets are‭ ‬$20‭ ‬for adults,‭ ‬$15‭ ‬for kids.‭ ‬Call‭ ‬(561‭) ‬515-2672‭ ‬for reservations.‭ ‬– H.‭ ‬Erstein

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Theater feature: Maltz campers to get 'Footloose'

Christina Caperna, Nicky Wood, Jessica Pereira, Lanardo Davis,
Alyssa Berger and Taylor Joseph Rivera in Footloose.



By Jan Engoren

The‭ ‬1984‭ ‬film‭ ‬Footloose,‭ ‬starring Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer,‭ ‬tells the‭ ‬story of a‭ ‬Chicago teenager,‭ ‬Ren McCormack,‭ ‬who moves to a small town where‭ ‬dancing and‭ ‬rock music are banned.

Boosted by a catchy score,‭ ‬it‭ ‬was fairly successful on screen but has found eternal life in its‭ ‬1998‭ ‬adaptation for the‭ ‬musical theatre,‭ ‬becoming one of the most frequently performed‭ ‬of all‭ ‬school musicals.

This Friday and Saturday,‭ ‬the Maltz Jupiter Theatre Conservatory of Performing Arts‭' ‬vacation camps for grades‭ ‬6-12‭ ‬will produce and perform‭ ‬Footloose,‭ ‬under the direction of New York actor Dennis O’Bannion.‭

“This is a great opportunity for local children and teens to have the chance to experience what it's like to work in professional theater and perform on that theater’s stage in a full musical,‭ ‬complete with lighting,‭ ‬sets and more,‭” ‬O’Bannion said.‭ “‬I'm particularly excited to share with the students all of the knowledge I’ve gained from living and working in New York City as a professional performer for the past nine years.‭”

O’Bannion,‭ ‬seen on Broadway in White Christmas at the Marquis Theatre in‭ ‬2009,‭ ‬appeared at the Maltz in March in the musical‭ ‬Crazy for You,‭ ‬after which he was invited by Andrew Kato,‭ ‬the‭ ‬artistic director‭ ‬at the Maltz,‭ ‬to return in June to direct this show.‭

O’Bannion‭ ‬grew up performing in musical theatre at the Children’s Musical Theatre in San Jose,‭ ‬Calif.,‭ ‬and has performed in‭ ‬Footloose himself.

‭“‬This is a great show about youthful energy and standing up for what you believe in,‭” ‬he said.‭ ‬“The kids are so much fun and have so much energy and potential.‭ ‬I hope‭ ‬to inspire them to pursue theater as I have.‭”

With a cast of‭ ‬60‭ ‬students and dozens of musical numbers to choreograph and direct,‭ ‬the job can be daunting.

Dennis O’Bannion puts the Footloose cast through their dance paces.‭

Students rehearsed‭ ‬from‭ ‬9‭ ‬a.m.‭ ‬to‭ ‬5‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬daily for three weeks to learn their choreography,‭ ‬songs,‭ ‬lines and roles.‭ ‬It is an intense program,‭ ‬but one that the students are passionate about.

Lanardo‭ (‬Leo‭) ‬Davis,‭ ‬18,‭ ‬a senior at Royal Palm Beach High School who will attend the New World School of the Arts‭ ‬in Miami this fall,‭ ‬auditioned for and won the role of‭ ‬the‭ ‬Rev.‭ ‬Shaw Moore,‭ ‬who was‭ ‬played by‭ ‬John Lithgow in the film.

Davis,‭ ‬who has studied voice and dance since‭ ‬fifth‭ ‬grade and‭ ‬was‭ ‬classically trained at the Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach,‭ ‬plans to pursue a career in the theater.

‭“‬My life changed when I joined the conservatory at the Maltz,‭” ‬said Davis,‭ ‬whose favorite musicals include‭ ‬In the Heights,‭ ‬Cats and‭ ‬Beauty and the Beast.‭ “‬I fell in love with musical theatre.‭ ‬I love the songs in‭ ‬'Footloose‭' – ‬the title song,‭ ‬'Footloose,‭' ‬as well as‭ ‬'I Need a Hero' and‭ ‬'Almost Paradise.‭' ”

Not one to sit passively by,‭ ‬Davis watched a DVD of the original film and watched the musical version on YouTube,‭ ‬looking for a role that he wanted.‭

“I asked myself,‭ ‬what role will fit me‭?” ‬he said,‭ “‬and decided to try out for the role of the reverend.‭ ‬I was interested in playing a role with power and authority and the role of the reverend has both.‭”

Jessica Pereira,‭ ‬17,‭ ‬a senior at Wellington Christian School who aspires to be like her‭ ‬idol,‭ ‬Kristen Chenoweth,‭ ‬plays the lead role,‭ ‬Ariel Moore,‭ ‬the reverend’s daughter.‭ ‬Pereira credits musical theater with bringing her out of her shell.

‭“‬I‭ ‬have‭ ‬studied dance with Brian Andrews at Ballet Plus in Lake Worth since I was four years old,‭” ‬Pereira said.‭ “‬I used to be very shy before I discovered singing and dancing.‭”

Pereira comes from a line of dancers.‭ ‬Her maternal grandmother was a dancer and her mother,‭ ‬Kathleen,‭ ‬danced with Ballet Florida in the mid-1980s.

Pereira’s younger sister,‭ ‬Kristina,‭ ‬13,‭ ‬is in the chorus.

‭“‬This is the best show I’ve ever been in,‭” ‬gushed‭ ‬Jessica‭ ‬Pereira,‭ ‬even though she’s been in two shows at the Maltz:‭ ‬Cats,‭ ‬and the‭ ‬Best of Broadway Showcase last December.‭ “‬Dennis is a great choreographer and I’m so thankful to be in the show and so thankful for all my teachers‭ – ‬they are all amazing.‭”

The biggest challenge for Pereira,‭ ‬who is in every scene,‭ ‬is learning all her lines.‭

“The music comes easily,‭” ‬she says,‭ “‬but it’s not easy to memorize all the dialogue.‭ ‬Sometimes my mother helps me in the car on the way to rehearsal and other times I lock myself in my room and try to memorize all the lines.‭ ‬It can be just as hard as schoolwork,‭ ‬but it’s much more fun.‭”

Caiti Marlowe turns‭ ‬15‭ ‬on the last day of the show and‭ ‬has dual roles as Vi‭ (‬played‭ ‬by‭ ‬Dianne Wiest in the movie‭)‬,‭ ‬the reverend‭’‬s wife,‭ ‬and as a mother of a teenager.‭ ‬At the age of‭ ‬9,‭ ‬Marlowe announced to her mother,‭ “‬I want to be an actress.‭”

Her mother,‭ ‬Kit,‭ ‬who was a former catalog model for‭ ‬the long-gone department store,‭ ‬Jordan Marsh,‭ ‬and played an extra in the film‭ ‬Caddyshack,‭ ‬says‭ ‬her daughter‭ “‬has the talent that I never had.‭

“She made tremendous strides in last summer‭’‬s production of‭ '‬High School Musical‭' ‬at the Maltz thanks to the very devoted staff.‭ ‬They love the kids and treat them as professionals and bring out the best in the students,‭”‬ she said.‭ ‬Spending so many hours together,‭ ‬they‭ ‬truly become a family.‭ ‬The faculty is very devoted and nurturing,‭ ‬and teach the kids to be themselves.‭”

While Marlowe admits to not having seen any of the rehearsals,‭ ‬she is looking‭ ‬forward to the opening night Friday.

‭“‬We booked a room at the Jupiter Beach Resort,‭”‬ Marlowe said.‭ “‬We will stay overnight and celebrate Caiti‭’‬s‭ ‬15th birthday and her role in‭ ‬Footloose.‭”

Footloose‭will be performed at‭ ‬7:30‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬Friday and Saturday.‭ ‬Tickets are‭ ‬$20‭ ‬for adults‭; ‬$15‭ ‬for children.‭ ‬Call‭ ‬561-575-2223‭ ‬or visit‭ ‬www.jupitertheatre.org.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Music review: Shevchenko's survey of Brahms, Chopin deeply satisfying

Margarita Shevchenko.


By Greg Stepanich

Margarita Shevchenko‭’‬s program at the Steinway Gallery in Boca Raton on Saturday night was as core-Romantic as it could get,‭ ‬with much-loved music by Brahms and Chopin making up the bill of fare.

But while these works were twice-‭ ‬and thrice-familiar,‭ ‬the Russian-born resident of North Miami Beach brought a deep,‭ ‬mature vision to the music‭ ‬that enhanced and restored its classic status.‭ ‬By that I don‭’‬t mean that she aped the renditions of pianists of bygone generations‭; ‬simply that the interpretive weight she gave the pieces reminded us why we cherish them.

Shevchenko opened with the seven pieces of Johannes Brahms‭’‬s‭ ‬Fantasien‭ (‬Op.‭ ‬116‭)‬,‭ ‬music written in‭ ‬1892,‭ ‬at the end of the composer‭’‬s career.‭ ‬But there isn‭’‬t a lot of Brahms‭’‬ more familiar late manner in these pieces.‭ ‬There is,‭ ‬rather,‭ ‬plenty of youthful vigor here,‭ ‬and a slightly less cluttered keyboard texture that‭ ‬helps‭ ‬the ideas speak more clearly.

In other words,‭ ‬it‭’‬s‭ ‬music that‭’‬s‭ ‬tough to play and intensely serious,‭ ‬and in the three Capriccios‭ (‬Nos.‭ ‬1,‭ ‬3‭ ‬and‭ ‬7‭)‬,‭ ‬Shevchenko played with plenty of fire and muscle.‭ ‬In the contrasting section of the second Capriccio,‭ ‬she demonstrated one of her best qualities:‭ ‬Big,‭ ‬beautiful singing tone.‭ ‬That same attribute was evident in the Intermezzo‭ (‬No.‭ ‬4‭ ‬in E‭) ‬that followed,‭ ‬the most widely‭ ‬known piece of the set,‭ ‬primarily for its lovely main theme.

In the E minor Intermezzo‭ (‬No.‭ ‬5‭)‬,‭ ‬Shevchenko‭ ‬pedaled through the rests,‭ ‬creating a very interesting,‭ ‬unusual texture in which the inner voices murmured and blurred in a stagnant,‭ ‬bitter atmosphere.‭ ‬She kept up the prophetic approach in the next Intermezzo‭ (‬No.‭ ‬6‭ ‬in E‭)‬,‭ ‬emphasizing its slippery chromaticism,‭ ‬then swept it away with a fierce reading of the final Capriccio‭ (‬No.‭ ‬7‭ ‬in D minor‭)‬,‭ ‬tearing into it with virtually no break from No.‭ ‬6.

The music of Chopin took up the rest of the recital,‭ ‬all of it relatively late music as well,‭ ‬beginning with one of his finest works,‭ ‬the‭ ‬Polonaise-Fantaisie‭ (‬Op.‭ ‬61‭) ‬of‭ ‬1846.‭ ‬This is a most difficult piece‭ ‬to bring off because its episodic nature can make it sound choppy and incoherent.‭ ‬But Shevchenko is a musician who knows how to‭ ‬maintain a narrative‭ ‬line,‭ ‬so that the music had its mood-shifting fantasy element without losing sight of the polonaise hovering in the background.

One reason she was able to do this was the‭ ‬fresh color she brought to the various iterations of the main theme‭; ‬the vividness of each new framework helped the listener hear it again,‭ ‬and retain it as it made its way through the rest of the piece.‭ ‬It would have‭ ‬been even better with a somewhat crisper sense of rhythm in the polonaise sections,‭ ‬but overall this was a beautiful traversal of this work.‭ ‬In addition,‭ ‬her closing pages,‭ ‬with their treacherous sliding chords and pounding octaves in the left hand,‭ ‬were admirably clear.‭ ‬Many are the pianists who will make a hash of the last couple pages,‭ ‬but not Shevchenko,‭ ‬who carried them off well.‭

The Barcarolle‭ (‬in F-sharp,‭ ‬Op.‭ ‬60‭)‬,‭ ‬also from Chopin‭’‬s final period,‭ ‬benefited from Shevchenko‭’‬s tone production in particular,‭ ‬and her performance‭ ‬in general‭ ‬had the right feel of exuberant Romanticism,‭ ‬as a simple Italianate gondolier ballad blossoms immediately into a huge statement,‭ ‬rich with thirds and sixths.‭ ‬Although the Barcarolle is less complex than the Polonaise-Fantaisie,‭ ‬it has the same kind of nearly overwrought ending,‭ ‬which Shevchenko also handled just as ably,‭ ‬with a precisely drilled tumble to a low F-sharp at the every end.‭

The recital ended with the so-called‭ ‬Heroic Polonaise‭ (‬in A-flat,‭ ‬Op.‭ ‬53‭)‬.‭ ‬Shevchenko‭’‬s interpretation was quite straightforward,‭ ‬and‭ ‬technically excellent,‭ ‬with good octaves in the E major cavalry charge in the middle.‭ ‬The second subject needed some more dynamic contrast and a shorter,‭ ‬bouncier rhythmic approach,‭ ‬as did the middle section,‭ ‬in which the theme was a little too soft and not crisp enough to make it stand out as well as it should have.

Still,‭ ‬in general this performance had all the force and swagger it needed to make a vigorous impression,‭ ‬and the smallish house at the gallery rose to its feet at its triumphant ending.

Shevchenko played more Chopin for the encore:‭ ‬the famous Grand Valse Brillante‭ (‬in E-flat,‭ ‬Op.‭ ‬18‭)‬.‭ ‬Aside from the second strain,‭ ‬whose repeated notes were not all there the first time around,‭ ‬Shevchenko tossed this work off expertly,‭ ‬with a swift tempo and fine finger work,‭ ‬especially in the glittering figurations in the final pages.‭

After a concert of large-boned,‭ ‬thickly scored pieces,‭ ‬it was a pleasure to hear this more playful side of Shevchenko‭’‬s art,‭ ‬and like the rest of her efforts Saturday night,‭ ‬it had an adult polish to it that reflected the‭ ‬work of an artist who knows the music she‭’‬s presenting and knows exactly what she wants to say.

The Piano Lovers series continues Saturday,‭ ‬July‭ ‬9,‭ ‬with a return appearance by the Venezuelan-born pianist Vanessa Perez.‭ ‬Her program will include works by Chopin and Mozart,‭ ‬as well as music by Spanish composers.‭ ‬The concert is set for‭ ‬7‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬at the Boca Steinway Gallery.‭ ‬Tickets are‭ ‬$20‭ ‬in advance and‭ ‬$25‭ ‬at the door.‭ ‬Call‭ ‬929-6633‭ ‬or visit‭ ‬www.pianolovers.org.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Art feature: Lighthouse ArtCenter looks to emerging artists

Warm War,‭ ‬by Jorge Marquez.


By Jan Engoren


When Nicholas Whipple was looking for a venue to showcase his light sculptures,‭ ‬he put out feelers to galleries in‭ ‬the‭ ‬Wynwood section of Miami.‭

Luckily for Whipple,‭ ‬28,‭ ‬of Hobe Sound,‭ ‬a set designer and master carpenter at the Maltz Theatre in Jupiter,‭ ‬he found a space closer to home.‭

In an exhibit opening‭ ‬Friday,‭ ‬Next Wave:‭ ‬Emerging Young Artists,‭ ‬the Lighthouse ArtCenter reaches out to‭ ‬Whipple‭’‬s generation‭ ‬– the next wave of young artists‭ ‬– featuring a juried exhibit of edgy and provocative art by the under-40‭ ‬crowd.‭

‭“‬We expect to display lots of exciting visual art‭ ‬forms,‭ ‬from wild installation art to experimental film,‭ ‬to form a collective of post-grads,‭ ‬young parents,‭ ‬grassroots activists and original thinkers,‭”‬ said exhibition curator Robyn Deits Eckersley.‭

Whipple,‭ ‬who works with light,‭ ‬projection and illumination,‭ ‬is one of those‭ ‬emerging artists.‭

Fascinated by lights,‭ ‬shadows,‭ ‬patterns and pulsating light frequencies that can stimulate human emotions,‭ ‬Whipple‭’‬s influences come in part from his experience on stage working with‭ ‬“gobos‭”‬ – physical templates placed in front of,‭ ‬or inside of,‭ ‬lights to control the shape of the projected light.

Whipple‭’‬s installation for the Next Wave show is what he calls‭ ‬Visions of a Past Persona.‭ ‬It‭’‬s part of a series titled‭ ‬Sculptor‭’‬s Painting,‭ ‬a self-portrait of‭ “‬who I used to be,‭”‬ he says.

He works with‭ ‬35mm slides that he paints,‭ ‬sculpts and etches and stacks together to‭ ‬create a multi-layered dimensional look that is then projected onto the wall as a painting.

Visions of a Past Persona,‭ ‬by Nicholas Whipple.

‭“‬I think this exhibit is a great opportunity for young artists,‭”‬ Whipple says.‭ ‬“Sometimes I get distracted by my day job and my life,‭ ‬but I know creating art full-time is what I want to do.‭ ‬This is a chance for me to refocus my energies,‭ ‬pursue my art and hopefully exhibit at more galleries.‭”

A takeoff on the‭ ‬museum‭’‬s‭ ‬popular First Friday event,‭ ‬in which young emerging artists are invited to show their works,‭ ‬highlights of Next Wave include the opening night reception and awards ceremony,‭ ‬with live music,‭ ‬hors d‭’‬oeuvres and‭ ‬beer-tasting from the Tequesta Brewing Company,‭ ‬an artist talk and demonstration,‭ ‬and an open mic night and coffeehouse.

‭ “‬We‭ ‬created this concept as a forum for young,‭ ‬emerging artists to show their work and get exposure,‭”‬ said‭ ‬Megan Bell,‭ ‬the‭ ‬assistant director of education at the Lighthouse School of Art.‭ “‬Unlike more established artists,‭ ‬who may have access to museums and gallery spaces,‭ ‬younger artists at the launch of their career need a supportive environment and opportunity to showcase their work,‭ ‬network and make connections.‭”

AJ Brockman,‭ ‬23,‭ ‬of Palm Beach Gardens,‭ ‬is‭ ‬another of the Next‭ ‬Wave‭’‬s emerging artists.‭ ‬A recent graduate of the Digital Media Arts College in Boca Raton,‭ ‬Brockman,‭ ‬who was born‭ ‬with‭ ‬a form of muscular dystrophy and has limited use of his hands,‭ ‬is able to use his left hand and‭ ‬two fingers to create digital art with a computer mouse.

His painting,‭ ‬Nozridr,‭ ‬which‭ ‬depicts a‭ ‬1946‭ ‬Ford Super Deluxe‭ ‬“Woodie‭”‬ station wagon on the sand at the beach,‭ ‬with a surfer and‭ ‬a‭ ‬pier in the distance,‭ ‬won third place in last year‭’‬s show.

Honestly,‭ ‬by AJ Brockman.

This year Brockman will exhibit a series of posters he designed entitled,‭ ‬I‭’‬m‭…‬ The first poster shows‭ ‬a woman smoking a cigarette,‭ ‬dressed in dark sunglasses and wrap-around head scarf like a‭ ‬1920s movie‭ ‬star,‭ ‬emblazoned with the words,‭ ‬It‭’‬s a Fad.

The second is a portrait of Abraham Lincoln,‭ ‬titled‭ ‬Honestly,‭ ‬and the third shows an image of Stephen Hawking in his wheelchair,‭ ‬titled,‭ ‬No,‭ ‬Seriously.

‭ “‬These posters are contemporary and design-oriented.‭ ‬I‭ ‬attempt to bring humor and‭ ‬stimulate‭ ‬thought,‭”‬ Brockman said.‭ ‬“As all art,‭ ‬it means different things to every viewer and‭ ‬is‭ ‬therefore difficult to define.

‭“‬Thanks to computer art technology,‭ ‬I can‭ ‬make a living doing what I love.‭ ‬I‭’‬m hoping to share my work with more people,‭ ‬and seeing people‭’‬s reactions to my work is always rewarding,‭”‬ he says.

Another artist whose work will be in the show is‭ ‬Jorge Marquez,‭ ‬28,‭ ‬of West Palm Beach.‭ ‬Marquez has a‭ ‬bachelor‭’‬s‭ ‬degree in graphic arts and works as an art director for a lifestyle magazine.‭ ‬He primarily creates large abstract canvases with acrylics and a spatula,‭ ‬and says he‭ ‬is heavily influenced by his‭ ‬former‭ ‬teacher in Colombia,‭ ‬Adriana Gomez.

‭“‬I like to work with different mediums and be versatile,‭”‬ Marquez said.‭ “‬For many of us young artists who don‭’‬t live in Miami,‭ ‬this show is a way for us to connect with each other and create a community of like-minded artists.‭”‬

Next Wave:‭ ‬Emerging Young Artists‭ ‬opens Friday and runs through Sept.‭ ‬1‭ ‬at the Lighthouse ArtCenter,‭ ‬Gallery Square North,‭ ‬373‭ ‬Tequesta Drive,‭ ‬Tequesta.‭ ‬Museum hours are Monday through Friday‭ ‬10‭ ‬a.m.-4‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬Saturday and Sunday‭; ‬10‭ ‬a.m.-2‭ ‬p.m.,‭ ‬with free admission.‭ ‬For more information,‭ ‬visit‭ ‬www.lighthousearts.org or call‭ (‬561‭) ‬746-3101.‭

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Book review: Writer’s memoir of husband’s stroke meticulous,‭ ‬moving


One Hundred Names for Love:‭ ‬A Stroke,‭ ‬a Marriage,‭ ‬and the Language of Healing,‭ ‬by Diane Ackerman‭; ‬Norton‭; ‬322‭ ‬pp.‭; ‬$26.95


By Bill Williams

When a blood clot lodges in the brain,‭ ‬patients may lose their ability to speak or write,‭ ‬a devastating setback for anyone,‭ ‬but particularly so for an author.

Husband-and-wife authors Diane Ackerman and Paul West‭ ‬had devoted their lives to words until that awful day in‭ ‬2003‭ ‬when West suffered a stroke that left him devoid of language,‭ ‬an outcome known as aphasia.

One Hundred Names for Love is Ackerman’s affecting account of the long,‭ ‬ongoing recovery process and its crushing impact on their lives.

The book can be read on three levels‭ ‬--‭ ‬a tender love story,‭ ‬a meticulous examination of aphasia,‭ ‬and the latest example of Ackerman’s gorgeous writing.

Ackerman and West met in the early‭ ‬1970s at Penn State University,‭ ‬where he was a professor and she was a student,‭ ‬18‭ ‬years younger than him.‭ ‬They enjoyed parallel literary careers,‭ ‬he as a fiction writer and she as the non-fiction author of widely admired books such as‭ ‬A Natural History of the Senses.

After his stroke West,‭ ‬in effect,‭ ‬became a child again,‭ ‬having lost the ability to speak or perform everyday tasks,‭ ‬such as shaving,‭ ‬combing his hair or brushing his teeth.‭ ‬He couldn’t read,‭ ‬tell time or drink water without choking.‭ ‬His case was particularly severe because he could neither speak nor understand what people said to him.‭ ‬All he could mutter was‭ “‬mem,‭” ‬and he would shout‭ “‬mem,‭ ‬mem,‭ ‬mem‭” ‬as a curse when no one could figure out his meaning.‭ ‬Ackerman dutifully records the glacial,‭ ‬frustrating process of helping her husband rebuild his vocabulary one word at a time.

She candidly admits to becoming‭ “‬impatient and resentful‭” ‬over assuming the roles of teacher,‭ ‬nurse,‭ ‬attendant and caregiver,‭ ‬which cut into her own writing time.

Taking away West’s speech was,‭ ‬in Ackerman’s words,‭ “‬like emptying his toy chest,‭ ‬rendering him a deadbeat,‭ ‬switching his identity,‭ ‬severing his umbilical cord to loved ones.‭ …”

She describes tender scenes of the couple cuddling in bed and spending evenings making‭ “‬soulful monkey baby sounds of pure emotion‭ … ‬and laughing at how silly we could still be together,‭ ‬words or no.‭”

Ackerman summarizes what science knows about how the brain handles speech and memory,‭ ‬as she sets out to learn everything she can about aphasia.‭ ‬She learns that Ralph Waldo Emerson,‭ ‬William Carlos Williams and Samuel Johnson also suffered from aphasia.‭

Doctors had predicted that West would never write again,‭ ‬and were astonished when,‭ ‬with help,‭ ‬he gradually relearned the alphabet and began writing short stories and even books of fiction,‭ ‬although it became clear he would not regain his full pre-stroke language ability.‭ ‬He still cannot use a computer or typewriter and has trouble reading his own handwriting.

Years after his stroke,‭ “‬wrong words still veered through his speech like errant comets.‭” ‬When Ackerman says she does not understand,‭ ‬he repeats a stream of nonsense,‭ ‬knowing what he wants to say,‭ ‬but unable to‭ “‬harpoon the right words.

The book’s title comes from West’s endearing habit of showering Ackerman with scores of names such as‭ ‬Celestial Elf,‭ ‬My Little Spice Owl,‭ ‬Romantic Little Dew-Sipper.

Several years into her husband’s rehabilitation,‭ ‬Ackerman has learned to live in the moment without worrying about the future.‭ “‬We unwrap one day a time,‭ ‬treating it as a star-spangled gift,‭” ‬she writes.

I have two minor reservations about this otherwise memorable book.‭ ‬The descriptions of West’s determined struggle to talk become repetitious,‭ ‬and the book is filled with more science than general readers might want or need.

Yet‭ ‬One Hundred Names for Love should prove inspirational for anyone who has a family member suffering from aphasia,‭ ‬as it demonstrates that even when the prognosis is bleak,‭ ‬remarkable progress is possible by swamping the patient‭ “‬with language all day long.‭”

Ackerman ends with a heartfelt reflection on impermanence.‭ “‬When Paul is gone,‭” ‬she writes,‭ “‬the trees and sky will still be beautiful,‭ ‬I will still be poignantly aware of life’s transience,‭ ‬and how lucky I am to be alive on this planet in space.‭ ‬It’s all part of the adventure.‭ ‬I will still cherish being alive,‭ ‬even though I will miss him fiercely.‭ ‬And,‭ ‬oddly enough,‭ ‬I will probably look back on these days as some of the happiest of my life,‭ ‬despite all the worries,‭ ‬frights and impediments,‭ ‬because I loved heartily and felt equally loved in return.‭”

Bill Williams is a freelance writer in West Hartford,‭ ‬Conn.,‭ ‬and a former editorial writer for‭ ‬The Hartford Courant.‭ ‬He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and can be reached at‭ ‬billwaw@comcast.net.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weekend arts picks: June 17-19

Neil Patrick Harris in Company.

Film:‭ ‬Can’t decide whether to go to the theater or to the movies this weekend‭? ‬Do both,‭ ‬with the high-definition video of the recent concert version of Stephen Sondheim’s‭ ‬Company,‭ ‬which was shamelessly promoted on last Sunday’s Tony Awards broadcast.‭ ‬It stars Neil Patrick Harris as marriage-challenged Bobby,‭ ‬which should restart the discussion whether the character’s dilemma is that he is actually gay.‭ ‬Among the ensemble of Bobby’s friends is Patti LuPone‭ (‬who sings a powerhouse,‭ ‬boozy‭ ‬The Ladies Who Lunch‭)‬,‭ ‬Martha Plimpton and,‭ ‬for some reason,‭ ‬Comedy Central’s musically savvy‭ ‬--‭ ‬but not much‭ ‬of‭ ‬a dancer‭ ‬--‭ ‬Stephen Colbert.‭ ‬Playing this Sunday at the Muvico Parisian,‭ ‬Cinemark Boynton Beach,‭ ‬Cinemark Palace,‭ ‬Shadowwood‭ ‬16‭ ‬and Delray Beach‭ ‬18.‭ ‬This one is a must-see for any Sondheim devotee.‭ 

Ceci Fernandez,‭ ‬Jai Rodriguez and Finnerty Steeves
in Chronicles Simpkins Will Cut Your Ass,‭ ‬at Summer Shorts.‭
(‬Photo by George Schiavone‭)


Theater:‭ ‬What do you do if you want to jump-start a‭ ‬16-year-old off-season tradition,‭ ‬but keep down the budget in these economically tricky times‭? ‬If you are City Theatre’s Summer Shorts,‭ ‬that annual‭ ‬celebration of short-form,‭ ‬5-to-20-minute playlets,‭ ‬you reduce your performance ensemble to five and the number of sketches to seven,‭ ‬but you also cast a ringer,‭ ‬Queer Eye for a Straight Guy’s Jai Rodriguez.‭ ‬The ploy works because A‭) ‬the ensemble includes such stellar talent as Stephen Trovillion and Finnerty Steeves,‭ ‬B‭) ‬the scenes are all winners instead of the occasional sprinkling of disappointing head-scratchers,‭ ‬and C‭) ‬Rodriguez turns out to be a versatile team player.‭ ‬The result is one of the most satisfying Shorts productions in years.‭ ‬Continuing at Miami’s Arsht Center through Sunday,‭ ‬June‭ ‬26,‭ ‬then heading up to the Broward Center’s Amaturo Theater,‭ ‬from June‭ ‬30‭ ‬through July‭ ‬3.‭

Allium Chives,‭ ‬by Pamela Larkin.

Art:‭ ‬The New York-born artist Pamela Larkin Caruso has focused on some specific kinds of images in her work:‭ ‬plants and hearts,‭ ‬above all,‭ ‬which she fills with vibrant color and simple shapes,‭ ‬and a strong‭ ‬inner life,‭ ‬as can be seen throughout the many samples viewable on her website‭ (‬http://plarkinart.com‭)‬.‭ ‬The Jupiter Heights resident‭’‬s art‭ ‬also‭ ‬can be seen on display through the end of August‭ ‬in the lobby of the Eissey Campus Theatre on the campus of Palm Beach State College in Palm Beach Gardens.‭ ‬Open‭ ‬11‭ ‬a.m.‭ ‬to‭ ‬4‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬Monday through Friday,‭ ‬and during shows.‭ ‬For more information,‭ ‬call‭ ‬207-5905.‭

Margarita Shevchenko.

Music:‭ ‬In the last three or four years of Frederic Chopin‭’‬s brief life,‭ ‬the composer found it increasingly difficult to write,‭ ‬as his illness‭ (‬which may have been cystic fibrosis‭) ‬progressed inexorably.‭ ‬One of his last works,‭ ‬published in‭ ‬1846,‭ ‬was the‭ ‬Polonaise-Fantaisie,‭ ‬Op.‭ ‬61,‭ ‬an unusual,‭ ‬intimate,‭ ‬brilliant distillation of the Polish folk dance that inspired it.‭ ‬This Saturday,‭ ‬this great piece will be played by the Russian-born pianist Margarita Shevchenko,‭ ‬trained in Moscow and Cleveland,‭ ‬and resident in North Miami Beach,‭ ‬where she keeps a studio.‭ ‬At her recital at the Boca Steinway Gallery,‭ ‬she‭’‬ll also play two other Chopin pieces‭ ‬– the well-known Polonaise in A-flat‭ (‬Op.‭ ‬53‭)‬,‭ ‬and the Barcarolle‭ (‬in F-sharp‭)‬,‭ ‬Op.‭ ‬60‭ ‬– as well as the complete Op.‭ ‬116‭ ‬Fantaisies of Johannes Brahms,‭ ‬also music written at the end of its composer‭’‬s career.‭ ‬Shevchenko takes the stage at‭ ‬7‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬Saturday.‭ ‬Tickets are‭ ‬$20‭ ‬in advance,‭ ‬$25‭ ‬at the door.‭ ‬Call‭ ‬929-6633‭ ‬or visit‭ ‬www.pianolovers.org.