THE PIANO FACTORY EXHIBITS “JASIRI”
by Kay Bourne
(pictured: Maddu in front of rajah’s palace “Fatah Morgana”)
For the artist who is a woman, an identity of one’s own is as significant as Virginia Woolf’s vaunted “a room of one’s own.” With the exhibit “JASIRI,” which means fearless in Kenyan, four very different artists show art that indicates aspects of that search of self-discovery and revelation.
The exhibit at THE GALLERY AT THE PIANO FACTORY continues through JUNE 28. Regular hours are Friday evenings 6-8pm and Saturdays and Sundays 1- 5pm. You can also visit by appointment. MITCH WEISS, currently the overall curator of the space, can be reached through his website here at . The gallery is located at 791 TREMONT STREET, a block from Massachusetts Avenue, walking towards Ruggles Station. For more info you can also phone 617-437-9365.
Born in Mexico, and raised in Mexico City in the years when the capitol was less populated and there was art at every turn, MADDU HUACUJA‘s empathy for mysticism or magical realism prompted an extended visit to India. The five large photographs taken in the northwest where karma is palpable and real, evidence Maddu’s interest in matters that transcend the every day. Take for example, a rajah’s castle in the Thar Desert rising from what appears to be choppy water but is actually a mirage. In another aspect of her individuality, Maddu’s feminist spirit lets a photograph of 31 hand prints stand as acrimonious testimony of the sacrifices imposed on women in a male dominated world: they represent the 31 wives of a rajah who were tossed on his funeral pyre to join him in death.
JOHNETTA TINKER‘s mixed media, acrylic paint, wood, glass, bead, and wire work “SHAKY SHACKY SHOTGUN SERIES/Variation #1″ is likely in homage to JOHN BIGGERS, but, while she is his protÃ©gÃ© from studies with him in Texas, the student has found her own interpretation for this recurring symbol of African American culture.
On an even more autobiographical note, is the slightly unnerving “FAMILY SECRETS” in which one person is shut out from the gossip flowing between the others. Tinker’s elongated heads sculptured and smooth like undulating hills rubbing up against the other are made with paper she rips, then paints with gesso before putting the pieces together again. “I’m that one they hush up when I ask what they’re talking about,” she confides.
GLORETTA BAYNES’ quilted large wall hangings depicting a totem pole of perched doves serene against air brushed lattice work and leopard spot patterns in shades of browns on white, “AFRO-CUBA SERIES OSHUN DOVES,” signals the importance of a recent trip to Cuba. Her travels there not only acquainted her more deeply with traditional African religion through an introduction to the masks of the Abaku Secret Society related to the leopard among other references, but gave her her true name: Oniyemi. Translated, the term means “art befits her.” A Yoruba practitioner gave her this look into herself and a new way to embrace herself.
Fabric artist SUSAN THOMPSON‘s mother was seriously ill for the last eight years of her life; now through a series of portraits Susan can begin to recall her mom differently. “I miss her. I want her back. She makes me happy, remembering the good times we had, and remembering gives me the identity I had as a child even though she and her sister and brother are gone and I am here without them.”
The three unpretentious and deceptively homey fabric collages entitled “MOM,” “AUNT VICTORIA,” and “UNCLE ALEX” are central to Thompson’s quest to thinking about how her family came to America – a metaphor of her ancestors and ancestral line. A mythic sankofi bird looking back and forward simultaneously stamped from a block print Thompson carved, along with a seated African sculpture likewise devised are at the frame of her mother’s portrait, for instance. Mom wears a blue crocheted neckpiece held together by a costume jewelry pin. Also present is a miniature angel singing from a book of spirituals, an homage to famed Boston artist, the late ALAN ROHAN CRITE who was Thompson’s teacher and advocate in the arts.
This provocative exhibit appeals for its aesthetic value and the intimacy the artists willingly share with the viewer.
ALL ABOUT LOVE
by Faylis Matos
(left to right: Celie and Sophia)
“THE COLOR PURPLE” was truly a ‘musical about love’, strength, and triumph over adversity. Since its first premiere at the Broadway theatre on December 1, 2005, I have wanted to see it, and it was worth the wait. The singing, dancing and flawless acting was absolutely fantastic. My only advice is to not go to the musical performance expecting to hear the famous songs from the movie. The depiction of ALICE WALKER‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is depicted differently via song. However, some famous lines are still there to look forward to!
“THE COLOR PURPLE” makes a joyful noise by truly embodying the spirit of the Black church. Three of the town’s gossipy but lovable churchwomen help narrate some scenes and provide both witty and humorous commentary. Although the protagonist of “THE COLOR PURPLE,” “Celie” (KENITA R. MILLER) was the shinning light of the play, The character “Sophia” (played by FELICIA P. FIELDS who received a Tony Award for the part) was my favorite. Without her, the show would not have been half as engaging. Fields played the role to perfection, and whenever she was on stage, my excitement rose.
GARY GRIFFIN (director) did an excellent job portraying Celie fantasizing about her sister Nettie’s (played by LaTOYA LONDON who was an American Idol, season three finalist) life in Africa while reading her letters. While she read there was great scenery of Africa with African dancing, singing, and music. When interrupted by her fantasies, the setting of Africa suddenly changed back to Celie’s life as a miserable wife in “Mister’s” (played by RUFUS BONDS Jr.) house. This gave the audience the feeling of being awakened from a splendid daydream.
“THE COLOR PURPLE” truly emphasizes the love between two sisters. Their reunion at the end of the play was a real tearjerker. I cried just as I did when I first saw the movie. A truly, heartwarming play that teaches us all to never overlook the small blessings in life, THE COLOR PURPLE is an absolutely beautiful performance.
Oprah Winfrey presents “THE COLOR PURPLE” plays at The Wang Center, Boston now until Sunday, JUNE 28.
The Color Purple ticket information
TONY GOES TO ROGER ROBINSON
by Caldwell Titcomb
This year’s TONY AWARDS, which recognize the best in New York theater, were bestowed on June 7 in Radio City Music Hall. The first award of the evening, announced by Jane Fonda, went to actor ROGER ROBINSON for his performance as conjurer Bynum Walker in August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone.”
Robinson, bounding up from the audience, began by saying, “It has taken me 46 years to come from that seat up these steps to this microphone.” The Seattle native went on to salute his 98-year-old mother, who “raised seven children single-handedly.”
Looking back over his career, he chose to pay special homage to three people whose “names you may not know, but they inspired me all my days” – actress DIANA SANDS (1934-1973), director LLOYD RICHARDS (1919-2006), and actor/director HAROLD SCOTT (1935-2006).
Some eyebrows were raised when “Joe Turner” was entrusted to a White director, BARTLETT SHER. But Robinson firmly lauded Sher for his “trust and respect,” and praised Lincoln Center as “a terrific place to work for.” And he thanked the late AUGUST WILSON “for writing this wonderful play.” As it happens, Robinson has performed in six of the ten plays that constitute Wilson’s 20th-century cycle about the Black experience in America; and he received a Tony nomination in 1996 for his portrayal of Hedley in “Seven Guitars,” the fifth instalment in the series.
Robinson got his New York start off-Broadway in WILLIAM HAIRSTON’s “Walk in Darkness” in 1963, later appearances including a double bill of plays by Nobel laureate WOLE SOYINKA (starring the aforementioned Harold Scott). He made his Broadway debut in 1969 with DON PETERSEN’s “Does a Tiger Wear a Necktie?” Broadway audiences have also seen him in a revival of MOLIERE’s “The Miser,” a musical version of JAMES BALDWIN’s “The Amen Corner,” a revival of O’NEILLl’s “The Iceman Cometh,” and REGINA TAYLOR’s “Drowning Crow.”
Outside of New York, he has over the decades taken on many assignments in such venues as Stratford (Connecticut), Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, Atlanta, Denver, Princeton, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and London’s National Theatre.
A GARLAND TRIBUTE IN STONEHAM
by Josiah Crowley © 2009
(pictured: Kathy St. George)
The twentieth century produced some phenomenally talented American music figures (BILLIE HOLLIDAY, FRANK SINATRA, LOUIS ARMSTRONG) – perhaps, none as beloved as JUDY GARLAND. America watched, and grew up with, Garland as she went through a hellish personal life marked by addiction, financial problems, five marriages, custody battles, as well as humor and talent. In many ways, those from Garland’s generation watched the star go through the very same life experiences (what were then considered “shameful”: divorce, alcoholism, etc.) they were having, but in a very public, often humiliating, way. Empathy and affection were sent her way. Still, she died poor and addicted at age 47.
“DEAR MISS GARLAND” is actress-singer KATHY St. GEORGE’s “love letter” to Garland. St. George, the same 4′ 11″ height as Garland, first encountered Garland as a child, watching the annual television airing of “THE WIZARD OF OZ.” She and director SCOTT EDMINSTON wrote the show’s book. It’s a thrilling theatrical experience for anyone who wants to swing with great music (Music Director JIM RICE makes a great contribution), laugh and be moved by an award-worthy turn by St. George. It’s both a great musical AND dramatic night in the theater. The actress beautifully captures Garland’s humanity, loneliness and immense sense of humor.
Act One finds St. George narrating pivotal points in Garland’s life, as well as singing some of those great standards. It gives the audience insight into Garland’s personal and professional lives. Perhaps, the highlight of this act is St. George’s hilarious five-minute version of “The Wizard of Oz.”
In Act Two, with an impressive seven-piece band, Garland’s 1961 Carnegie Hall concert is recreated and the theatergoer is treated to a musical interpretation that will remind people why Garland is still beloved. It would be difficult not be moved by spot-on renditions of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” “The Man Who Got Away,” “This Can’t Be Love,” “Chicago,” etc.
With great assist from choreographer ILYSE ROBBINS, costume designer CHARLES SCHOONMAKER and KAREN PERLOW‘s outstanding lighting design, Kathy St.. George’s intelligent, precise work is not an imitation of Garland: it’s a loving tribute to a great talent. And a reminder why some immensely gifted, if flawed, people (remember, the addicted Garland was a mother of three children she adored, in addition to being a public figure) are worthy of our love. “DEAR MISS GARLAND” is a love letter worth “reading” in person.
DEAR MISS GARLAND plays Stoneham Theatre until JUNE 28 at, 395 Main Street, Stoneham, MA
DEAR MISS GARLAND ticket information
UP-COMING EVENTS & COMMUNITY INFORMATION
Winner of New England Urban Music Awards “Best Jazz Album” for her album “Mona Lisa Puzzle”, Jazz pianist HEY RIM JEON performs at RYLES JAZZ CLUB, 212 Hampshire Street Cambridge, this Thursday, JUNE 25 with Tim Mayer on sax, Greg Holt on bass and J. Curtis Warner Jr. on drums. Two sets, 9pm and 10:30pm. For ticket info call (617) 876-9330 or visit her website by clicking on her photo to the left.
Wednesday, JUNE 24, the new PBS documentary “THE MUSIC INSTINCT: Science and Song” premieres at 9pm. This 2-hour special delves into the science of music and features YO-YO MA, BOBBY McFERRIN, deaf percussionist EVELYN GLENNIE and others, such as a live demonstration of the violin by Haitian-American composer/performer, Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR). Visit the website for more information HERE and check your local PBS station for times and reruns.
FIELDS CORNER MAIN STREET invites you to their 2009 ANNUAL MEETING with featured speaker CHARLOTTE GOLAR RICHIE on Wednesday, JUNE 24, from 6-8 pm at the Dorchester House Multi-Service Center, 1353 Dorchester Avenue. To RSVP or for more information, please contact FCMS at 617-474-1432 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
URBAN LEAGUE OF EASTERN MASSACHUSETTS presents “The Urban League of Eastern Massachusetts Branding Strategy for FY 2010 – FY 2015 “ on Wednesday, JUNE 24, 6-8 pm at the Hampton Inn & Suites, Jeep Jones Room, 811 Massachusetts Ave. Refreshments will be served! RSVP to Roxanne at 617-442-4519 x213 or email@example.com
SCULLERS JAZZ CLUB presents: TERENCE BLANCHARD, JUNE 26. For show times, ticket information and reservations call the box office at (617) 562-4111.
THE NATIONAL CENTER OF AFRO-AMERICAN ARTISTS, THE FRANKLIN PARK COALITION and BOSTON PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT’s ParkARTS presents THE ELMA LEWIS PLAYHOUSE IN THE PARK, free and open to the public for twelve weeks, every Tuesday with programs at 11am for children’s groups and again in the evening for the entire family from 6-8:30pm, starting JULY 14 at Valley Gates, next to The Playstead, the big field between White Stadium and the rear entrance of the Franklin Park Zoo. For the lineup and schedule information call 617-442-4141 or click Here.
The 5th Annual TITO PUENTE LATIN MUSIC SERIES presented by Berklee College of Music, Villa Victoria Center for the Arts and ParkARTS, featuring Berklee faculty, students, and guest artists hailing from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Mexico, and more takes place on Thursday evenings in July.
- July 9 at Mozart Park 10 Mozart St., in JP;
- July 16, 23, and 30 concerts are at O’Day Park, 85 W. Newton St. Roxbury
All concerts are 7-9pm, free and open to the public. For more information, call 617-927-1717.
The KENDALL SQUARE CONCERT SERIES is a free lunch-time concert series at Cambridge’s Kendall Square, in the outdoor plaza at 300 Athenaeum Streetevery Thursday, noon – 1:30pm, beginning JUNE 18 presented by BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC. Performers include Berklee students and alumni playing original jazz, Latin, hip-hop, rock, folk, funk, and reggae. Concerts will be postponed in inclement weather. June 18 brings Casimir Uberski, a student from Belgium whose original music is sprinkled with hints of Monk, Jarrett, Coleman, and Ray Charles. For information about this series and other Berklee free outdoor summer series, click HERE.
THE INSTITUTE OF CONTEMPORARY ART (ICA) partners with BERKLEE COLLEGE OF MUSIC to present HARBORWALK SOUNDS, a popular series of summer concerts showcasing some of the best new talent Berklee on Target Free Thursday Nights in JULY, from 6 – 8:30pm, on the waterfront Putnam Investments Plaza at the ICA. For more information, call ICA at (617) 478-3100 or click HERE .
FREE MUSEUM ADMISSIONS Most museums and art galleries offer free admission on certain days or weekends. Go to Free-Attractions.com for a list of availabilities in your area. Also visit the website for the Bank of America’s “Museums on US” program HERE. for locations of more than 100 museums nationwide who offer free admission on the first weekend of every month. In Massachusetts this includes The Boston Museum of Fine Arts; The DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, in Lincoln; The EcoTarium (museum of science and nature,) in Worcester; The Danforth Museum of Art, in Framingham, and The Harvard Museum of Natural History, in Cambridge.