Friday, July 23, 2010

Family Members’ Evening at the DCCA

The Delaware Center for Contemporary Arts was buzzing with children creating art at work tables and touring the galleries trying to spot the art on their recognition sheet. Susan Isaacs, back to fill in the gaps left by staff reductions at the DCCA, gave a compelling gallery walk lecture.

Starting in the Elizabeth Dennison Hatch Gallery, the Julio da Cunha exhibit (yes, the former UD professor has a studio at the DCCA again), Isaacs talked about the contrasts of color da Cunha used in his tribute to Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal. Each of his works has striking color contrasts, but the combinations of color make a very carefully constructed effect. Having an artist with the experience and longevity of da Cunha gives a certain gravitas to the DCCA’s membership – and Dr. Isaacs’ knowledge and lecture and writing experience puts meat on this local art table.

The Carole Bieber and Marc Ham Gallery still has most of the exhibit chosen by Carina Evangelista for June (Spectrum: Contemporary color abstraction). Isaacs pointed out that Bill Scott’s A brief moment of titillation, an abstract with a bright pink/orange background was really influenced by Henri Matisse. Dr. Albert Barnes’ acquisition of Matisse in the early 1900s brought his influence to the United States. (The Cone sisters had begun collecting Matisse but kept them in their home until the 1950s). Isaacs has added works to the exhibit: Steven Baris’ abstracts on mylar and Emily Bowser’s Radiation, a sculpture of brightly colored beanbags.

The tiny E Avery Draper showcase was painted sea blue to show off Joseph Barbaccia’s Eight currents - fanciful sea creatures decorated with brightly colored sequins.

The Beckler Family Gallery housed the bright colors of Lawrence Cromwell’s Make it bigger. His cut paper mobiles, his videos and his vivid color oil and wax works were as refreshing and restorative as the summer evening.

Exhibits will be changed July 25 and August 1. The new works will be on display for the August 6 Wilmington Art Loop.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Arty at the Party

Mélomanie celebrated their year at a picnic at the home of Mark Hagerty and Tracy Richardson, and Arty found plenty of musical fun and festivity to be had…

As guest Sylvia Ahramjian showed off her new Baroque violin to Philadelphia violinist Fran Berge, rich sounds emanated from the music salon. The salon houses both of Richardson’s harpsichords, which have also been busy this summer, as Mélomanie continues to record its new CD, slated for release later this year.

Mélomanie Board President Tommie Almond presented a cake adorned with a photo of flutist Kim Reighley’s Baroque instrument (taken by photographer Tim Bayard), as a celebration of Reighley’s newly announced doctorate and tenure as music professor at West Chester University. Congrats, Ms. Reighley; what a great start to the new season!

Rafael Arauco was seeking more venues to play piano in ensembles. He heard a great deal about the Vermont Music and Arts program from Margaret Darby.

Guitarist and composer Chris Braddock and his wife, violinist Jeanmarie Braddock, recently welcomed another family musician, their son Benjamin, who slept peacefully through the picnic.

During the lively conversations, Arty was surprised to hear absolutely no mention of the departure of Mark Mobley from the DSO staff. Arty wonders, is Mobley’s exit “just another” in a string of recent losses, which also touched DTC and Rehoboth Art League…Shall we pretend not to notice until the seasons start up in the fall?

Arts in Media’s Michelle Kramer-Fitzgerald proudly announced that her latest blogger at Delaware Arts Info, Holly Quinn, is truly enthusiastic about happenings south of the Canal and looks to help expand the blog’s reach. Stay tuned to this address for posts from Quinn as the Arts get back into full swing.

And Arty wonders: is it a coincidence that all the musicians and spouses at this gathering were gourmet cooks and/or gourmand eaters? If musicians create a love of food, eat on!


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Shhhhhhh! It’s Shakespeare’s Macbeth!

Was it the lovely evening, cooled by the threat of a storm, which never materialized, that made the evening so pleasant?

The bagpipes were resonant and the scent of spruce redolent as we walked up the hill. We spread out our pallets (we were given spots close to the stage as we had no chairs to block the vision of those in front of us) and started our picnic. We watched the couple in front of us set up their roses, anniversary card and rosé wine as they cuddled and smiled. A contagious contentment spread.

Banquo (Adam Altman) and Malcolm (Allen Radway) gave a funny theatre lecture telling us that the real Macbeth was a great and just king and that much ink had been spilled to justify Shakespeare’s portrayal of him as a murderous despot.

When Allyson Sands Good appeared as Lady Macbeth, I was immediately transported into the story. Her delivery of Shakespearean English seemed as clear as modern speech and I was as excited as she when she greeted her husband as Thane of Cawdor. Her overzealous and eager urging of Macbeth (David Blatt) was as hard to take for me as it was for him. Blatt was able to show the conflict between Macbeth’s love for his wife, for his children, and for Banquo as he yielded to a temptation, which also seemed to be his destiny.

The play seemed brief and I had just stopped mourning the senseless deaths of the children of Macduff and the lonely wanderings of Banquo’s son Fleance, they appeared in the curtain call together – the wildly red-haired Harcourt-Brooke siblings. How lovely to have their Scots features to enhance the play.

Coming down the hill in the magic of the cool evening, I felt that Birnam wood had indeed come to my perch on the high hill of Rockwood Mansion Park.

Margaret Darby

Providing an interesting pre-show lecture, Actors Altman and Radway reminded us to listen for Shakespeare’s use of meter, as well as his disregard for iambic pentameter. In fact, as they emphasized, plays during his time were “heard”, not watched. The theme of the destructive trickle-down effect of a bad king on his empire is present in many of the Bard’s plays. Poor Hamlet is tortured by the evil that runs rampant in his own family; King Lear goes mad from his own terrible decisions. Lady Macbeth is engulfed by her own bloodlust and desire for power.

Allyson Sands Good plays Lady Macbeth boldly and expertly. Her transformation from ambitious wife, courting evil into a lost soul who has descended into irreversible madness is powerful, and almost sympathetic. As Good speaks, she is so expressive and free, one forgets she is working within the confines of the written word.

Also strong is David Blatt’s performance as Macbeth. The transfer of evil from husband to wife is almost palpable. His speech “Out, out brief candle” seems a foil to Lady Macbeth’s earlier “Out, damned spot” monologue, which exposes the undoing of her sanity. As Macbeth embraces evil, he becomes seething under his veneer of cheer, whereas Lady Macbeth’s ambitions bring her to an almost unexpected demise of her sanity.

Staged by Artistic Director Molly Cahill Govern, the play runs at Rockwood Mansion Park through the end of July.

For tickets and information about the Delaware Shakespeare Festival:

Jessica Graae