Thursday, January 31, 2013

Kiss My Art: JR Falkinburg at the Chris White Gallery

A lifelong, self-taught artist, JR Falkinburg got his start like many kids -- by drawing his favorite comic book characters. Art was a hobby that helped him relax after a day's work as an architect. Two years ago, he started painting, and opened up a whole new world of art and experimentation.

Rarely does he work with the same medium twice. His Shipley Lofts studio is filled with pieces that reflect his adventurous nature, from found object art to pieces made with wax, or plastic wrap, or paint chips. There are multi-media collaborations, photographs, and even paintings that, with the help of a smart phone, create sound. His eclectic style is meant to appeal as many senses as possible, to evoke a feeling.

For his first solo show, "Kiss My Art," opening at the Chris White Gallery on Friday, February 1, Falkinburg will show 30 pieces, plus collaborations with other Shipley artists such as Brad Turner, John Camacho, Lorraine Foster and Kevin Bielicki.

"The idea," he says, "is to be an event instead of an art show; instead of coming in and moving from picture to picture, the whole show will be a feeling. You want to hang out."

Contributing to the event feel will be a variety of guests, including DJ Biz, tattoo artist Larry Dineen with a live tattoo session, and hip-hop dancers.

"Kiss My Art" is a collection, an experiment not hemmed in by a theme or style. Experience it on Friday from 6 to 9, or visit the gallery throughout the month a January.

Chris White Gallery
701 N. Shipley St.
Wilmington, DE 19801

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

BOEING BOEING — a Full Flight of Funny

Opening weekend at Delaware Theatre Company saw a bevy of Who’s Whos hoot, holler and howl at the third production of its 2012-2013 season, Marc Camoletti’s French farce, Boeing Boeing.  It also welcomed back to the local stage three graduates of the University of Delaware’s Professional Theatre Training Program (now UD’s REP Theatre). (Saw pal Deenie Howatt of UD get a huge hug from actor Jeffrey C. Hawkins in the lobby post-performance.) 

The 2008 Tony Award-winning script, originally translated by Beverly Cross and Francis Evans and directed here by Steve Tague, takes us on board the comedic trip of American businessman Bernard (Jason O’Connell) as he attempts to juggle his trio of international fiancĂ©es – all flight attendants – as well as a surprise visit from his old college pal, Robert (Jeffrey C. Hawkins).

Bernard has successfully (thus far) kept all three on a tight schedule of romance, all managed through the master flight timetables he keeps on hand.  He describes his setup to Robert as “…so mathematic, it’s almost poetic.” But suddenly, reality – or more precisely, modern technology – takes control in the form of faster jet engines and colliding schedules.  Then the real fun starts: early arrivals, sneaky departures, and plenty of door slamming, pratfalls, and the ubiquitous calming cocktail.   

The women in Bernard’s life – feisty Texan Gloria (Sara M. Bruner), lusty Italian Gabriella (Gisela Chipe) and uber-passionate German Gretchen (Heidi-Marie Ferren) – are at the heart of the frenzied, titillating tale.  Each was a well-played over-the-top parody, but Gretchen was downright hilarious.  However, it was the one who must keep them all straight – Bernard’s long-suffering maid, Berthe (Sarah Doherty) – who I thought delivered the most genuine laugh-out-loud moments.  Many of Doherty’s scenes were priceless even without words: her body language and subtle reactions delivered in true comedic timing.

My other favorite was Hawkins as Bernard’s nerdy, excitable pal, Robert.  While Bernard cavorts with his trio, Robert and Berthe struggle to maintain order, whatever that might be.  I loved the banter of Berthe’s and Robert’s scenes together, and at one point found myself even rooting for them to hook up and leave this dysfunctional band to themselves!  There’s plenty of clever quips, including an explanation from Gloria on what truly makes American great, which sent a roar through the audience.

I had a little problem with the actors’ blocking from my seats (at a few points, a character would completely obstruct our view of others) but I came away extremely amused and pleasantly surprised (thought there would be much more ‘dated sexism’ in the content). In the end, after the mania ensues and the smoke clears, everything is wrapped up in a classic neat little package. No spoiler alert here, though; as Hunter S. Thompson once said, “Buy the ticket; take the ride.”

The production runs through February 10. See

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The DSO is BACK!

By Guest Blogger, Christine Facciolo
Christine holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in music and continues to apply her voice to all genres of music.  An arts lover since childhood, she currently works as a freelance writer.

There’s nothing more magical than when great music comes to life in the hands of expert players under the direction of a conductor who breathes animation into the music.  And that’s exactly what happened when the Delaware Symphony Orchestra and Maestro David Amado opened the 2013 season on Friday, January 25.

The program featured three late 19th Century works: Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 and the overture to the opera Hansel and Gretel by Engelbert Humperdinck. And while the heavy lifting of the Romantic era was pretty much over by this time, the continued popularity of these selections shows the enduring appeal of this most influential period in the history of Western music.

Dvorak spent the years between 1892 and 1895 in America, having been invited to develop an “American sound.”  Indeed, people often comment on the “American-ness” of his final symphony—that its themes recall Negro spirituals or Native American music.

But what’s at work here: fact or the mere power of suggestion?   If it hadn’t been composed in America or been nicknamed “From the New World,” would anyone on this side of the Atlantic have made the connection?  Dvorak never acknowledged use of particular melodies, but rather attempted to transfer the idioms of folk music to the symphonic form. The Ninth Symphony is every bit as Dvorak and Czech as anything he’d ever written — right down to the bucolic trio in the Scherzo.

But none of that matters, for Dvorak has given us one of the greatest gems of the symphonic literature — and the DSO one of its finest performances. The rhythmic vitality of the opening movement was present throughout with some excellent horn playing in particular.  The gorgeous Largo melody was presented with a graceful poise bookended with a series of sonorous chromatic harmonies. Bursts of orchestral sunlight punctuated the dramatic Scherzo. The brass came blazing back in the Finale which under Amado’s direction was full of urgency, drive and passion.

Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 is a fascinating but still underrated piece.  It contains some of the composer’s most beguiling melodies and one of the finest cadenzas ever written.  DSO principal pianist Lura Johnson rendered the first movement with an air of confidence and ease — her cadenza powerful yet insightful and moving.  In the following movements, Rachmaninoff’s Romanticism blossoms while her virtuosity sizzles.  Amado and the orchestra did well with a score that really doesn’t give the instrumentalist much to chew on.

The concert opened with the overture to Engelbert Humperdinck’s opera Hansel and Gretel.  The composition is imaginative, mixing childlike simplicity with feisty depth.  The brass shined in the opening bars of this holiday favorite, a perfect selection for a snowy Friday night.