Posted at 9:04 AM on February 2, 2011
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: News and reviews
Yay - there's a story about dance!!! It's been too long...
David Zink Yi contemplates darkness and life
The Berlin-based artist has been working for the past few years in ceramics to create sculptures inspired by the Architeuthis, a deep-sea-dwelling squid that up until a few years ago had never been encountered alive.
- Sheila Regan. City Pages
G.A.S.P! (Gender Anarchy Sex Positivity) opens at Intermedia Arts Thursday
In an effort to examine gender roles and sex-positive education, the collaborative happening blends visual and performance art, giving artists who are often ignored and underrepresented a space to express themselves.
- Shelby Meyers, City Pages
Artists' images inspired by the Winter Carnival
Although he currently lives in Seattle, artist Robert Blehert gave back to his hometown with artwork for the 125th St. Paul Winter Carnival.
- Erica Tasto, Pioneer Press
A peek at the life of a recluse
Biography of J.D. Salinger uncovers new details of his life and offers insight to his reclusiveness.
- Steve Weinberg, Star Tribune
The Enduring Mystique of "Swan Lake
Camille LeFevre muses on what fuels the lasting allure of the romantic ballet staple, "Swan Lake"-- from the recent popular film, "Black Swan," to this week's full-length performance of the work at Northrop, by the Voronezh State Ballet Theatre of Russia.
The arts under a Republican Congress
With a budget crisis ahead, Republicans are calling for cuts to federal and local budgets. What might this mean for the arts?
- Max Sparber, Minnesotaplaylist.com
Grant Hart in limbo after house fire"It's just lost stuff, not people." So said a surprisingly upbeat Grant Hart a few days after a fire destroyed two rooms and a lot of personal belongings at his house in South St. Paul last week.
- Chris Riemenschneider, Star Tribune
Quartet without borders
At Walker Art Center this weekend, the eclectic Kronos Quartet will play pieces by Iranian, Iraqi and Palestinian musicians - and some rock heroes, too.
- Britt Robson, Star Tribune
Brynn Andre sings her heart out for Kids Against Hunger
Andre knows who she's singing to and nails the target head-on, and while her confessional pop sound is far from feel-good and sugary, her lyrics line up nicely with a well-executed percussive piano melody.
- Natalie Gallagher, City Pages
There is no 'Doubt'
Ten Thousand Things' sharp, taut production of John Patrick Shanley's parable on modernity and tradition is a must-see.
- Graydon Royce, Star Tribune
"Shrek the Musical" at the Orpheum Theatre: Best not to ogre-analyze it
Shrek the Musical feels overstuffed with tepid numbers.
- Jay Gabler, TC Daily Planet
The Marvelous Wonderettes
It's almost all about the music of the 1950s and '60s, performed by a quartet of women. The new production at the Plymouth Playhouse sticks to the formula and is a real winner for those just looking for an evening's distraction.
- Ed Huyck, City Pages
Instead of producing a play in an established theater venue, you instead produce it somewhere unexpected.
- Max Sparber, MinnesotaPlaylist.com
Memento Lucem (Remember the Light) [detail], 2010
Oil on panel
58 x 133 x 2 in.
Walk into the Minnesota Artist Exhibition Program galleries at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and you will find two very different bodies of work hanging on the walls. But spend a little time with them both and you may find yourself pondering similar questions.
Margaret Wall-Romana's work is lush and breathtaking to behold. Her giant canvases are rich with imagery - primarily plantlife - in various states of growth and decay. MAEP coordinator Christopher Atkins says Wall-Romana's work combines everything from naturalism to abstract expressionism, surrealism and color fields:
Margaret's work is really formal - she sustains a sense of history and technique that I don't see very often in painters in this town. She's very much a large scale studio artist, playing with scale, and creating these intricate structures from bones, wood and plants around her.
Towards & Away, 2010
Oil on panel
46 x 116 x 2 in.
Wall-Romana's work draws you in to explore her compositions that are both gorgeous and other-worldly. If you pay close attention you can even see the strokes of her palette knife across the canvas.
Peter Happel Christian, by contrast is a photographer who's work, while beautiful, is more conceptual and minimalist. In a series of photographs called "Blackholes and Blindspots" Happel Christian purposefully blacks out the very center of each image. By obscuring the focal point, he's actually making us look harder at an image of an urban landscape that we might otherwise take for granted.
Peter Happel Christian
Blackholes and Blindspots (No. 8), 2010
8 x 11 in.
For Happel Christian, the artwork is as much an embodiment of the artistic process and his own questions than it is a final product. For his work "Witness Tree" he went back to his childhood home and took a myriad of photographs of the redbud tree his parents planted around the same time Happel Christian was born. In essence the tree is a marker of his own life. But, according to Atkins, when it came to really capturing the tree and what it represented, Happel Christian felt any one photograph was lacking, so instead took a picture of all of the photographs bound together. He's basically saying "this is not the definitive image."
Christopher Atkins says it's that artistic inquiry that drives Happel Christian's work throughout:
He really takes an idea and explores it in depth in a variety of ways, whether it's through photography or installation pieces. You can look at his work and see beautiful photographs, but what's important for him is that the idea underneath is clear as well.
Peter Happel Christian
Witness Tree, 2010
15 x 13 in
So while Margaret Wall-Romana's paintings are sensual and expansive, Happel Christian's work is more of an intellectual pursuit, bringing our attention down to a single point.
Upon further contemplation, however, these two artists are similarly preoccupied with the natural landscape, and how we manipulate it. They both seek to capture the eye of their viewers - one by creating lush landscapes, the other by thwarting our initial attempts and making us look harder. Each are passionate about their pursuits - one through technique and form, the other in concept and method.
"Painting Before and After Words: Maragaret Wall-Romana" and "Ground Truth: Works by Peter Happel Christian" are both on view in the MAEP galleries of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts through April 3.(2 Comments)
Judith Howarth (Mary) and Brenda Harris (Elizabeth), star as the dueling divas in "Mary Stuart."
Minnesota Opera presents "Mary Stuart" through February 6 at the Ordway Center for Performing Arts. It revolves around Queen Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, as they battle for the English throne. Thinking about going? Below are excerpts from three different reviews of the first performances; click on the links to read the full reviews.
Start a conversation about Gaetano Donizetti's 1834 "Mary Stuart," which opened Saturday at the Ordway Center in a grandly sung production by the Minnesota Opera, and chances are you'll soon be talking about the blood-soaked patch of English history on which the work draws. Based on a play by Friedrich von Schiller, the opera seems overshadowed by its source materials, which librettist Giuseppe Bardari, a green 17-year-old, couldn't quite make his own. The result is a problematic hybrid -- "Masterpiece Theater" meets high-flying coloratura -- whose power stems more from the clash of its two queenly sopranos than from its theatrical (or musical) cogency.
That power peaks in the famous confrontation scene, invented by Schiller, which pits Elizabeth I against her cousin, Mary Stuart. The Earl of Leicester, loved by both women, has hatched a plan to free Mary, whom Elizabeth, a political rival, has long held captive. But Leicester's scheme goes horribly wrong, and with an imprudent outburst -- "Vile bastard," the opera's signature moment -- Mary seals her doom. One can imagine this encounter being played with greater melodramatic fervor than it was on Saturday, but not with more chilling elocution. (Alas, this pivotal scene comes rather early -- at the end of Act 1 in the company's two-act version of the score -- and leaves composer and librettist struggling to sustain dramatic tension thereafter.)
In Brenda Harris (Elizabeth) and Judith Howarth (Mary), Minnesota Opera has the two differentiated divas Donizetti demands. No one will confuse them. Harris, deservedly a company favorite, is an aging spitfire, regal even in her indecision -- she holds all the cards, and knows it. Her voice has an icy edge; her coloratura is a weapon. Howarth, though capable of a spine-awakening shriek, characteristically sings with melting lyricism. Her coloratura is laced with tenderness; she makes Mary's dubious transformation from charmer to martyr seem plausible. She's particularly affecting in her prayer, as is the splendid chorus (which is effectively deployed throughout this production).
Call it a soprano smackdown.
While several operas swirl around the conflict between two women, Gaetano Donizetti's "Mary Stuart" might top them all in passionate fury. Aida vs. Amneris? Amateurs. What Queen Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, are fighting over has such a combustible combination of ingredients -- power, religion and love -- that an explosion seems inevitable.
When the lid blows off the relationship between its two central characters in the Minnesota Opera's "Mary Stuart," it's one of the most thrilling scenes the company has created in recent memory. It may be the point at which this production reaches its apogee, but it soars from beginning to end, propelled by spectacular singing and stagecraft, richly textured characterizations and expert interpretation of Donizetti's music.
Legend has it that the sopranos in this opera's original 1835 production came to blows and hair pulling during a rehearsal. You won't find that here, but the tension between the two queens fills the air inside the Ordway. The story takes place after Mary has sought refuge in England, only to find that religious differences (Catholic vs. Anglican) and disputes over bloodlines have convinced some within the Elizabethan court that she's too dangerous to live.
While some productions portray Elizabeth as this story's venomous villain, Harris attracts the audience's sympathy for a jealous, indecisive monarch. Brenda Harris reprises the role of Elizabeth that she so vividly inhabited in last season's "Roberto Devereux," but this performance is even more impressive. But Judith Howarth matches her aria for aria as Mary, seizing the heroine's mantle with a transfixing stage presence and silky-soft delivery. Both Harris and Howarth make these larger-than-life characters compellingly human-sized, each a flawed and fascinating figure.
Even if you don't know much about classical music, you can appreciate opera because it features situations everyone can relate to. For example, Gaetano Donizetti's Mary Stuart: you know you need to sign your cousin's death warrant because she was party to treasonous plots against you, and furthermore has been sending mash notes from her prison cell to your lover, who was once hers. But you keep putting it off and putting it off because you're busy being queen and, after all, she is your cousin (albeit once removed). I mean, who hasn't been there?
...It's a strong production, but you have to know what you're getting into. There's little in the way of comic antics or grand battles here: you've pretty much got two chagrined women trading powerful arias. Both divas are up to the task, though as with Devereux, Harris has the more thankless role and is outshone by her costar--then Tamara Klivadenko, now the precise and empathetic Howarth. In the crucial role of Leicester, Sledge sings well but does a terrible job as an actor: when he's shown the death warrant of the woman he loves, he gives Elizabeth a look like she's just asked him to wash the castle's windows.
Did you make it the Minnesota Opera's production of "Mary Stuart?" If so, what did you think? Share your review in the comments section.
If you've done a Google search this morning, you may have noticed the home page is promoting something called "Art Project." Well that's too tempting a title for me to resist, so I did a little exploring, and am pretty thrilled with what I found.
"Art Project" is basically a collaboration between museums around the world to upload their artworks online in extraordinary detail, as well as offer virtual tours of their galleries. Users can create their own collections of favorite artworks from the participating museums.
In short, it's an art lover's dream come true.
Currently there are 17 museums participating in the project, including the Museum of Modern Art in NYC, the Tate Britain in London, the Uffizi gallery in Florence and the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The website promises more information soon on how other museums can join the project (the Walker and MIA, perhaps?).
According to the Art Project website, Google approached the museum partners with the idea, and each museum was able to chose the number of galleries, artwork and information they wanted to include.
As you might imagine, the images on the site are copyright protected, and Google owns the "Stree View" imagery used for creating the virtual museum tours.
Here's the current list of museum partners:
Alte Nationalgalerie, Berlin - Germany
Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian, Washington DC - USA
The Frick Collection, NYC - USA
Gemäldegalerie, Berlin - Germany
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC - USA
MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art, NYC - USA
Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid - Spain
Museo Thyssen - Bornemisza, Madrid - Spain
Museum Kampa, Prague - Czech Republic
National Gallery, London - UK
Palace of Versailles - France
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam - The Netherlands
The State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg - Russia
State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow - Russia
Tate Britain, London - UK
Uffizi Gallery, Florence - Italy
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam - The Netherlands