Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Coastal Camera Club: A Juried Exhibition

By Guest Blogger, Stan Divorski Stan Divorski is an artist and avid art and photography collector who lives in Lewes, Delaware. He has a PhD in Psychology from Northwestern University, a Certificate in Painting and Drawing from the Corcoran College of Art and Design in Washington DC and has studied modern art curating at the Chelsea College of Arts in London.

All art or photography lovers must see this joint exhibition of the Rehoboth Art League and the Coastal Camera Club
, showing the work of photographers who are members in both organizations.
The artists display a creative — and at times playful — willingness to explore what the medium has to offer. Each artist shows a willingness to experiment with ground, presentation, image manipulation and staging to create uniquely effective images. The curators, Jay Pastore and Lee Mills, are to be congratulated for putting together a captivating demonstration of this diversity.

A few examples from this abundance of worthy images are in order. Dick Snyder’s “Florentine Ceiling” sets the tone by challenging the viewer to make sense of his black and white abstraction of a cathedral ceiling. Dizzying perspective, rich pattern, narrow tonal range and frameless canvas support simultaneously suggest M.C. Escher, a medieval tapestry and a Southeast Asia temple wall painting. 

Linda Rosenbluth’s “Out on the Town” at first appears to be an art deco poster of the 1930s, due to saturated neutral colors, rectilinear composition and flat light. Closer examination confirms a photo of a modern urban scene. 

Robin Harrison’s “At Rest” depicts a flamingo without the curved neck and stick legs that dominate most images of the bird. Harrison has selected a pose that abstracts the essence of the bird, highlighting its shyness and the textural richness and subtle color variation of its plumage. 

"Reflection" by Brooke Hedge
Brooke Hedge’s “Reflection” exemplifies how to capture mystery with only minimal editing of a photograph. Traditionally framed and matted, this black and white view of a young woman’s sun dappled reflection could well have been titled “Narcissus” after Ovid’s boy of that name. Its subject is Pre-Raphaelite, and its texture is that of Monet’s brush strokes. The image symbolizes innocent purity, the fleeting nature of beauty and the uncertainty of perception. 

Adjacent to Hedge’s work, Leslie Sinclair’s “Woodland Tea Party” takes a less purist approach. The frameless, aluminum mounted image of a tea table in a forest is a light painting (composed of multiple individually lit layers combined to form the final image). Reminiscent of Gregory Crewdson’s large scale, staged cinematic tableau, this smaller work is carefully arranged, conjuring Alice in Wonderland as interpreted by David Lynch.

If this exhibit is representative, The Coastal Camera Club may be more than a club, but rather the beginnings of a school of photography with a vision unique to the Delaware shore.

The Rehoboth Art League, with 1800 members, is Sussex County's first organized cultural arts center. Located on a historic plantation, it encourages artists and arts education and sponsors exhibits and programs.

The Coastal Camera Club, with more than 200 members, serves the Delaware seashore. It encourages and promotes interest in all phases of photography, encourages education in photography, holds contests and presents awards, and promotes the photographic efforts of its membership. 

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Best of 2015: Holly's Picks

WDL's Memphis. Photo: Kristen Romero

2015 was another great year for Delaware theater, with big changes (The DuPont Theatre was sold by the DuPont Co. to The Grand in January, and Delaware Theatre Company began actually developing shows for Broadway for the first time) and big excitement -- I don’t think I went to a single show in ‘15 without a full audience. I might even go so far as to say that Delaware is in the middle of a theater Renaissance, from Community theater on up.

I get get to catch every show of 2015 -- I don’t cover Delaware Theatre Company for Stage anymore, so I’ve missed a few highly praised productions -- but I did catch a lot of great productions. Here are my top picks:

Best Drama: Nora, Delaware Theatre Company -- One of the DTC shows I did catch was Nora, based on Ingmar Bergman’s A Doll’s House, a gripping story of a Victorian-era woman learning to assert her independence. It’s productions like this that are are putting Wilmington on the map.

Best non-musical comedy: Steel Magnolias, The Candlelight Theatre -- TCT is known for high-quality musicals, so it was a surprise that my favorite of their ‘15 season was their non-musical production of Steel Magnolias, a comic drama with an all-woman cast.

Best Shakespearian: Love’s Labour’s Lost, City Theater Company -- CTC had two big shows in 2015, and while “American Idiot” got more hype, “Love’s Labour’s Lost” was the real winner for me. With an immersive stage setup and a rock soundtrack, this was not a typical production of Shakespeare by any stretch, but it was the most successful non-traditional production I’ve seen yet.

Best Summer Production: Evil Dead The Musical, Bootless Stageworks -- Bootless’ Summer Splatter Series is a Wilmington tradition, and a highlight of the summer. They’ve done Evil Dead before, but this year it was at their new location at St. Stephen’s Church on Broom Street, and showed that Ryan P.J. Mulholland may have been born to play Ash.

Best Family Show/Most Fun: Shrek The Musical, Wilmington Drama League -- With a huge all-ages cast retelling the uplifting story of triumphant misfitittery, Shrek was way more fun than I expected it to be.

Best Touring Show: Camelot, The Playhouse -- Despite rumors that The Playhouse would no longer focus on Broadway touring shows, the 15-16 season is packed with big Broadway shows. My favorite of 2015 was Camelot - the updated version of the classic musical had some of the most stunning visuals of the year.

Best Show Overall: Memphis, Wilmington Drama League -- WDL stepped their game up to a whole new level with Memphis, the Broadway musical about the birth of rock ‘n roll. Everything hit the right note: the diverse cast was amazing, the sets were atmospheric, the story was a lesson in American history as well as a lesson in the roots of rock music. Truly a Community production that was up there with the professional theaters.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Merry Musical Start to the Holidays from a Trio of Artists

By Christine Facciolo

The Liturgy of the Hours, the recitation of certain prayers at fixed times of the day, is one of the oldest forms of Christian spirituality. Vespers the most ancient of these “offices” set a liturgy of prayer and music against the shadow of sunset.

In the 17th Century, Christmas vespers was a festive affair, featuring popular hymns, large groups of singers and instrumentalists in the cathedral.

The groups in rehearsal before the December 20 performance at Wilmington's SsAM.
The concert recreated Christmas vespers as it might have sounded under the direction of Lutheran composer and organist Michael Praetorius in 17th Century Germany. The performance featured the 13 voices of Choral Arts Philadelphia and replicas of Renaissance instruments — including dulcians, theorbos, sackbuts, recorders, shawm and violone — provided by Piffaro and Tempesta di Mare. The concert marked the first collaboration among the three performing organizations.

Christmas in Germany: Dresden Vespers 1619 delivered musical splendor in the old and lush tradition. Featuring music by Praetorius, Heinrich Schutz and Samuel Scheidt — three prominent composers of the early 17th Century Dresden court — the program followed the traditional order of the Vespers service, taking the audience through the expectations, solemn reflections and joys of the Advent season.

The beauty of this program lay in the contrast between the simple and the complex. The simple element is the Lutheran hymn tunes that underlie all this music. Choral Arts Philadelphia sang a few hymns in the traditional Lutheran setting. Most of the program, though, featured the complex element: These tunes woven into intricate counterpoint and often decorated with breathtaking ornamentation.

Praetorius was the featured composer on the program. His music straddles an interesting period of old-fashioned Renaissance music and new-fashion Baroque. Because of his position in Ecclesiastical circles — a committed Christian who regretted not taking Holy Orders — he did not write opera or concertos. Yet, he did learn a great deal from the new Italian style and his music is replete with virtuoso singing, echo effects and the use of instruments.

The audience heard his unique settings of such familiar tunes as Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme as well as his less familiar Magnificat super Ut re mi fa sol la, based on the simple melodic motif of six ascending notes of the scale. The offerings from the other composers feature antiphonal writing. Scheidt’s version of Nun komm der Heiden Heiland and Duo Seraphim and Schutz’ setting of Psalm 128 show the influences of the Venetian polychoral tradition.

This performance revealed the splendor and ethereal beauty of the Vespers, as well as the magic and excitement of bringing a reconstructed chapter of music history to life.