Dusty Wright's Culture Catch - Smart Pop Culture, Video & Audio podcasts, Written Reviews in the Arts & Entertainment http://www.culturecatch.com/node/feed en Theater in the Time of Covid http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3946 <span>Theater in the Time of Covid</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/leah-richards" lang="" about="/users/leah-richards" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Leah Richards</a></span> <span>May 23, 2020 - 19:26</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/theater" hreflang="en">Theater Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/874" hreflang="en">off off broadway</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2020/2020-05/moliere_credit_unterdruck_-_liane_fredel_1.jpg?itok=iuALHKD_" width="1200" height="798" alt="Thumbnail" title="moliere_credit_unterdruck_-_liane_fredel.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p><i>The Misanthrope</i></p> <p>Written by Molière; translated by Richard Wilbur</p> <p>Directed by Lucie Tiberghien</p> <p>Presented by the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) in partnership with the Prospect Park Alliance</p> <p>May 2-6, 2020 on <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRfC-quc82zcsXaLZ8AmYPA" target="_blank">Molière in the Park's YouTube Channel</a> </p> <p>It's not hard to imagine an anthology of plays written specifically for performance via Zoom or its equivalents coming out of the current pandemic. At the same time, however, we are seeing theater companies and organizations working to present traditional and classical works in new formats. One of these groups is Molière in the Park, which is dedicated to presenting free performances of the French playwright's corpus to audiences in Brooklyn's Prospect Park. On May 2, Molière in the Park presented a performance of <i>The Misanthrope</i> that was livestreamed via the group's YouTube channel and will be available for free through May 6. This production of the satirical comedy, which made its stage debut in 1666, assembled the cast (most of whom were in various parts of New York but some of whom logged in from as far away as Los Angeles and Perugia, Italy) via Zoom, making clever use of backgrounds and eyelines to create the illusion of the actors sharing a space in some scenes and to emphasize their isolation in others. The production also featured a live chat in the comments for those watching through a browser or the Youtube app (as opposed to casting the stream to a TV). The cast delivered a lively and funny performance, while almost exclusively seated and not necessarily able to see one another no less, and watching it live imparted some of that sense of community that live theater creates so well.</p> <p>The misanthrope of the title is Alceste (Jared McNeill), a Timon of Athens type who professes a radical honesty and rails against what he perceives as the hypocrisy and degeneracy of his times. Célimène (Jennifer Mudge), despite her embrace of the mores and manners against which Alceste sets himself, is the object of his affections. His rivals in this include Oronte (Chris Henry Coffey), whose sonnet-writing skills Alceste insults after trying first (hypocritically?) to pillory the poem indirectly, leading Oronte to try to have him arrested. Célimène's own rivals in affection include the prudish Arsinoé (Heidi Armbruster) and Éliante (Kaliswa Brewster), for whom Alceste's friend Philinte (Postell Pringle) has feelings. The machinations among these would-be lovers, along with two additional marquises, played by Naomi Lorrain and Tamara Sevunts, furnish targets for Molière's social satire while propelling the plot towards a final set of choices that the central characters must make.</p> <p>Each act is briefly introduced by Samira Wiley, who also has a small part in the play proper, and singer-songwriter Stew provides a musical interlude between Acts 3 and 4. The language of the play is rhyming couplets (in this, it is reminiscent of much English verse of the long 18th century), but this adaptation also introduces some nods to its setting in contemporary Brooklyn: in the opening of the play, for example, Alceste takes off his headphones when he says he will be deaf to Philinte; and references are made to marquises having "joined the call" and to waiting until someone's Uber arrives. Aside from allusions to the atypical performance method, the production made some good use of its possibilities, with, for instance, eye-catching visual design in Act 2 that complemented the color of something that each character onscreen was wearing with different bold white-and-single-color wallpaper in that character's background. Act 5 features the effective symbolism of one Zoom window at a time disappearing as characters find out exactly what Célimène really thinks of them, and an earlier moment when Alceste feels himself betrayed receives notable emphasis just by McNeill moving around within the frame. McNeill makes for a charmingly irascible Alceste among this strong cast, with other standout moments including Coffey's very funny extended lead-in to reading Oronte's sonnet out loud and Armbruster's comprehensively hilarious turn as Arsinoé.     </p> <p>Following a Zoom curtain call was a Q&amp;A generated by the comments. Audience members asked about the interpretation of Alceste, how the streaming format affected different elements of the production (one person asked whether directing it was more like directing a film, but live TV might be a better comparison), and upcoming productions, which will include<i> Tartuffe</i>. It is interesting to think about how the challenges for the actors, such as a lack of physical interaction, reflect our own everyday difficulties right now (there have been multiple recent articles about the illusion of connection in virtual meetings, for example -- the difficulties of having only the appearance of eye contact and lacking the typically unnoticed physical cues and rhythms of in-person conversation). What's great about <i>The Misanthrope</i>, though, is that you won't be thinking about any of this for 90-plus minutes, so check it out before, like an in-person performance, it disappears forever.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3946&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="xbLgQovn46J7rKf63lUo6zL1aiQpjJuYn0ssgMGXsBw"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 23 May 2020 23:26:22 +0000 Leah Richards 3946 at http://www.culturecatch.com http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3946#comments Song of the Week: "Parachute" http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3945 <span>Song of the Week: &quot;Parachute&quot;</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/webmaster" lang="" about="/users/webmaster" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Webmaster</a></span> <span>May 21, 2020 - 12:23</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/139" hreflang="en">singer-songwriter</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><p> </p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/UXPOfnpMrbs?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>From upstate New York comes this wonderfully heartfelt, sing-songy ballad "Parachute" by the indie folk vocal duo The Sea The Sea -- Chuck and Mira Costa -- from their forthcoming album from AntiFragile Music due in August. Music this catchy will find a much larger audience. Enjoy it and share it via the links on this page. Stay safe!</p> <p> </p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3945&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="A_czudYSYwqFXKBnXsZC-mhnET4GocMwZ9oTQsG34_U"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 21 May 2020 16:23:57 +0000 Webmaster 3945 at http://www.culturecatch.com http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3945#comments The Queen Is Dead. Long Live The King! http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3943 <span>The Queen Is Dead. Long Live The King!</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/460" lang="" about="/user/460" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Robert Cochrane</a></span> <span>May 9, 2020 - 11:58</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/553" hreflang="en">celebrity obit</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/8SlOj_-_rTI?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>For sheer tear down the house, hollerin' bravado and pure passion. </p> <p>Conflicted and contrary. </p> <p>Scandalous and screaming and black. </p> <p>There was only ever Little Richard.</p> <p>The true originator of Rock &amp; Roll.</p> <p> </p> <p>All the brass, sass and androgyny from the Stones to Bowie. </p> <p>From Michael Jackson to Prince.</p> <p>From Madonna to Lady Gaga.</p> <p>All roads lead back to Richard Penniman.</p> <p> </p> <p>He wasn't just the most extreme presence of his era.</p> <p>He left every era standing in the shade of his sheer bravado.</p> <p>He knocked hell out of those piano keys.</p> <p>As the hairline receded the wigs just got bigger.</p> <p> </p> <p>Conflicted and at times provocative.</p> <p>His recent unfortunate views on homosexuality came from inner conflict.</p> <p>From that came the songs.</p> <p>His contradictions drove and made him who he was.</p> <p> </p> <p>We don't want our icons perfect.</p> <p>We need them chipped and flawed.</p> <p>There were the convictions for voyeurism and lewd conduct.</p> <p>The revolving doors on his sexual closet.</p> <p>The extreme swings of religiosity.</p> <p> </p> <p>You simply can't ignore the jerking electricity that still fizzes in his songs.</p> <p>The joy combined with madness.</p> <p>Good Golly Miss Molly, Tutti Fruitti, Lucille, Rip It Up!</p> <p>The sheer poetry of Awopbopallbopalopbamboom.</p> <p> </p> <p>As Jobriath once sang  "A Little Richard Goes A Long Long Way"</p> <p>It did then and it always will.</p> <p>This is the end of the very beginning.</p> <p>Something pivotal has died with him.</p> <p>The baton has fallen.</p> <p>There is, in this instance, no successor waiting in the wings.</p> <p>The Queen Is Dead! Long Live The King!</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3943&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="k8DEdrt-TH5OqDpb6O6j848ok3c47RnaI3FTySke1s4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 09 May 2020 15:58:48 +0000 Robert Cochrane 3943 at http://www.culturecatch.com http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3943#comments Song of the Week: "Second" http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3944 <span>Song of the Week: &quot;Second&quot;</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/dusty-wright" lang="" about="/users/dusty-wright" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Dusty Wright</a></span> <span>May 8, 2020 - 10:00</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/50" hreflang="en">punk rock</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/IT09DGuXwYQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>I hail the UK-based electronic duo <a href="https://www.sleafordmods.com" target="_blank">Sleaford Mods</a> -- vocalist Jason Williamson and beat meister Andrew Fearn. They've been making beautifully executed punk-hop with spoken-shouted diatribes for the more than eight years; like the '70s punk duo Suicide meets Henry Rollins ranting over hip hop beats. And, if it matters to you, public kudos from The Godfather of Punk, Mr. Iggy Pop! Brilliant lyrics married to insanely simple, but hooked-filled beats. "Second" is from their new carefully-curated retrospective <em>All That Glue</em>.  The epically affected/effective "staged" video was directed by Simon Parfrement and features the UK actresses Kate Dickie and Emma taking over the roles of Jason and Andrew while they watch from the audience.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3944&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="dmXoYYKmt-O7dnFemfPmQuSKSZ0QqZApwqcicNNiVpk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 08 May 2020 14:00:00 +0000 Dusty Wright 3944 at http://www.culturecatch.com http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3944#comments Story Telling During Covid! http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3942 <span>Story Telling During Covid!</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/leah-richards" lang="" about="/users/leah-richards" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Leah Richards</a></span> <span>May 3, 2020 - 11:13</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/theater" hreflang="en">Theater Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/88" hreflang="en">off broadway</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2020/2020-05/virtualstoryslam_4_30_1200.jpg?itok=9ISxAQJl" width="1200" height="927" alt="Thumbnail" title="virtualstoryslam_4_30_1200.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p><i>Virtual Storyslam!</i></p> <p>Presented by <a href="https://www.arthouseproductions.org" target="_blank">Art House Productions</a> and No Dominion Theatre Co.</p> <p>Weekly, Thursdays at 7pm EST, online via Zoom</p> <p>Right now, it's pretty hard to imagine sitting arm-to-arm with other audience members in a packed theater any time soon. But theaters and arts organizations have been implementing creative ways to bring their work into virtual spaces during this period of enforced isolation. Jersey City-based Art House Productions is one of these organizations, offering a selection of online events, including Drag Bingo on Fridays, live virtual stand-up on Saturdays, and, our subject here, storytelling slams on Thursdays, all presented via Zoom. Each edition of <i>Virtual Storyslam!</i>, co-hosted by Art House Productions and No Dominion Theatre Co., also based in Jersey City, and sponsored by real estate company Silverman, presents five storytellers who share personal stories related in some way to that week's theme. Each story is approximately 5-8 minutes, making the whole show around an hour, and the only criteria are that stories must be true and cannot feature crude language or be stand-up (Art House's website has submission guidelines for prospective storytellers, who do not need to have experience). The shows are free, but a $5 donation is suggested (and of course, you can always give more).</p> <p>We logged on to the April 30th edition, the theme of which was the storyteller's "Achilles' Heel," which the participants interpreted in varying ways. Audience members have the option to be unmuted as long as there is not a lot of background noise in their space so that the storytellers get a sense of audience reactions in real-time, but having the camera and/or mic on is not required. After a musical intro while waiting for things to get started, host Courtney Little, Producing Director of Art House, welcomed everyone and explained the house rules. She then turned the proceedings over to Michael Joel and Kaitlin Overton, Artistic Director and Executive Director of No Dominion, respectively, who alternated introducing the individual storytellers for the evening.</p> <p>First up was Mark from Massachusetts, whose tale included the most literal connection to the Achilles' heel theme as it recounted an unlucky period of injuries, drug side-effects, surgery, and almost getting squashed by his own car. Next came Ken from New Jersey, a retired public school teacher whose former student turned out by chance to be in the audience. Ken's Achilles' heel was his love of motorcycles (expressed these days through bicycling), and he narrated the less than thrilled reaction of his parents (and his priest) to his 17 year-old self buying a Honda S90. His bike took him, in pre-helmet-law 1967, to an uncle's farm in upstate New York and, ultimately, to an encounter, while flying along with his cousin onboard, with a trio of dogs and the surprising reaction of their owner.</p> <p>Third was Andrew, also from Massachusetts, who decided in his late 30s that he wanted to be able to say that he was a triathlete and so signed up for an event and started training. While Andrew felt good about the training, when it came to the event itself, facing, among other obstacles, the chaos of hundreds of swimmers in the open water of a river, the excruciating transition from biking to running, and the competition of a 10 year-old boy, he realized that he hadn't counted on just how humbling an experience this would be (his story though, did end on a positive note, with his figuring out that a volunteer was encouraging him and not pointing out that he was in last place).</p> <p>The penultimate story came from Erica from Los Angeles. Erica described herself as a former die-hard New Yorker and detailed the slide from her initial infatuation with the city (or, The City, in the parlance of locals) and its theater, music, and bar scenes to the disenchantment after a decade with a changed, more exclusive and sanitized New York and with how her life there had progressed. Luckily, finding kinship with a depressed polar bear named Gus in the Central Park Zoo, another typical neurotic New Yorker, helped her to feel the confidence to set out again and go west.</p> <p>Rounding out the evening was Julia from Hollywood, who graduated from summer camp kid to summer camp counselor in South Jersey (ironically, both West Coast storytellers' yarns took place on the East Coast). Julia's strategy for tiring out her charges as much as possible before lights out led her to take 25 seven year-old girls on a hike in the Pine Barrens, based on her co-counselor's insistence that she knew the trails. It would be a less entertaining story had that been true, of course, and, in the end, having been found by telling everyone to sing The Black Eyed Peas as loudly as possible as "a game," she found out that it really is true that as long as a counselor doesn't lose or kill a kid, parents are just happy to have them off their hands for the day.</p> <p>At the end, Meredith returned to thank everyone, invite a final round of applause, provide a link for donations, and announce the next theme, the great outdoors, concluding what was an entertaining and often funny hour. The experience reminded us in some ways of Wil Petre's <i>A Cocktail Party Social Experiment</i>, which generates rounds of conversation among eight volunteers at each event, and, although these stories are more prepared than what would come out at those events, there is a similar sense of generating connection among a group of people who are mostly strangers, as well as of the acceptance of vulnerability needed to share oneself with strangers in this way. (Then and again, that is part of what "theater" in all its forms involves.) The potential to bring together people from otherwise far-flung locations is a perk of the virtual space, something less likely on your typical night in a black-box theater. The experience of <i>Virtual Storyslam!</i> is engaging and enjoyable; it brings a batch of new stories with new surprises each week -- and the drinks are cheap!</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3942&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="yTiZcZaAWdWxREaTRQ8k0zB2s4vW42o7PJB_unyNBDk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sun, 03 May 2020 15:13:42 +0000 Leah Richards 3942 at http://www.culturecatch.com http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3942#comments Short Talk With Greg Smith http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3941 <span>Short Talk With Greg Smith</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/kathleen-cullen" lang="" about="/users/kathleen-cullen" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kathleen Cullen</a></span> <span>April 29, 2020 - 14:16</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/art" hreflang="en">Art Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/873" hreflang="en">art collector</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2020/2020-05/greg-smith-photo.jpg?itok=rxutegRb" width="1200" height="1800" alt="Thumbnail" title="greg-smith-photo.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p><strong>Kathleen Cullen:</strong> Your background had been in law and the academic side of politics before you decided to focus on art. Can you describe how that happened?</p> <p><strong>Greg Smith: </strong> I've been engaged with a passion for beauty for as long as I can remember. Being raised by four amazing women who were professionally or by avocation involved in music, drawing and fashion, certainly shaped my life. At six I was out in the sun with artists' oil paints, black electric tape, and a brush looking to create arte povera Mondrian interpretations on canvas boards. Their absence from my attic would imply my mother's curatorial disapproval. But this passion grew and though I was talented at tennis and teaching it to raise a little money for law school, l always loved it for its beauty (Go Roger Federer!) and spirit more than the competitive aspects. In a strange way the same was true for my love of the law. I had the good fortune to have been the law clerk to <em>The Reader's Digest</em> throughout most of law school. Where I worked there were fine art masterpieces everywhere.  So when I first started earning money I bought a little Jean Michel Folon piece, "Le Voyage" and later saw it featured in TIME magazine. It turned out to be an allegory for the rest of my life; a voyage in art, music, law, and tennis.</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="1596" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2020/2020-05/folon-time-cover.jpg?itok=4ogqGesz" title="folon-time-cover.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="1200" /></article><figcaption>Jean Michel Folon, "Le Voyage"</figcaption></figure><p>As to art, my affection for prints, to be honest, is because I feel that the best way to bring fine art to the most people is through fine art works on paper. While I’ve certainly worked around many people who could likely afford the paintings of the giants. They have never been a large part of my social circle and I'm much more interested in bringing the pleasure of the ownership of works of art by those same giants to the wonderful, sensitive, intelligent, and aspirational yet perhaps less well-heeled members of the public.</p> <p><strong>KC:  </strong>What were your thoughts in doing this politically oriented show at this time?</p> <p><strong>GS:  </strong>Well we live in interesting times, do we not?  In fact, it occurs to me that "May You Live in Interesting Times" was the title of the last Venice Biennale which I was able to attend on separate occasions last year. While I don’t think that the Biennale was focused on the political aspects of art, per se, there is no denying that politics and the culture wars associated with politics have a long, deep and storied place in international fine art. There was no shortage of reference points on a plethora of political subjects in Venice. As for me, I wanted to highlight some aspects of my collection that speak to the themes of politics and culture. Of course, the show is not meant to come even remotely close to an exhaustive survey, but I hope it's entertaining and a little thought provoking in this election year. I wanted to launch this now just to be part of the conversation.</p> <p><strong>KC:  </strong>In some of the pieces in the show, iconic figures include Mao, Gorbachev, and Trump. In some ways these leaders are objectified. What do you think is the artists' goal in including these figures?</p> <p><strong>GS:  </strong>I think the goal for any individual artist may be different in his or her own mind.  But the mere representation of a major political or cultural figure is, in itself, going to create a conversation in the mind of the viewer. In some cases, it seems clear to me that the full dialogue that an individual image may be seeking to subsume can be quite complicated and even to the point where the beauty, or let's say visual appeal, of a piece can sort of camouflage its broader political or cultural meaning.  It's interesting.</p> <p><strong>KC:  </strong>The show also includes the Mel Bochner piece "Kick Against The Pricks." This is done in a very different style than other work in the show. What was his original intent and in what way is the work reframed given the context of what's going on today?</p> <p><strong>GS:  </strong>This was a print that was offered by an organization called "Downtown 4 Democracy" back in 2018. The organization itself had a stated objective to encourage people to come out and vote. This work and the other works that were offered were all anti-Trump, anti-Republican, and some things that were coming out, like this work, held an implicit message of physical fury. I can't say whether this particular message had any impact on behavior but I suppose all political messaging is like that. It's throwing the spaghetti up against the intellectual wall and seeing what sticks. No one can say whether Mel Bochner's message, which is also suffused with his "Blah Blah Blah" motif, actually caused anyone to go vote one way or the other. I'm sure its theme of implied violence also might repel and counter motivate a voter or two. But regardless, the Democrats took the House of Representatives in 2018 so I guess Downtown 4 Democracy can claim some credit. I also suppose someone somewhere at some time saw some ad on Facebook that was run by some Russians in 2016 to ostensibly help Donald Trump. But of course, no one can ever say that it actually influenced anyone’s vote and to tell you the truth I have never seen even one of those ads reproduced anywhere so I don't even know whether they even happened.</p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="302" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2020/2020-05/mel-bochner-kick-against-the-pricks-1-800x800.jpg?itok=6GW0p92y" title="mel-bochner-kick-against-the-pricks-1-800x800.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="800" /></article><figcaption>Mel Bochner, "Kicking Against The Pricks"</figcaption></figure><p>As an art matter, I know of no one who is creating art that is embraced by the art world in general or who is even working in the art world and who is espousing a conservative message. I'm not sure that its healthy but there is no question that within the messages that emit from the art world are many positive and thought-provoking ones that deal with inclusivity, gender inequality, racial insensitivity and any other number of issues that are very healthy to consider. I've tried to deal with some of those issues in my own work.</p> <p><strong>KC:  </strong>You have also included a photograph of Shirin Neshat. In the picture she is holding a shotgun. What does this image bring to the message of the show? Do you think the context is different now than when it was created?</p> <p><strong>GS: </strong> I think that the implications of this image have not shifted since it was created over 25 years ago. I don't believe that real progress has been made in either direction when it comes to a collective understanding in the west of the cultural history or political realities or aspirations of women in general and Muslim women of the Middle East in particular. I remember playfully chastising a Saudi man who was on a taxi line with me in Shanghai over his wife's not yet being able to drive. Somehow, I don't think he appreciated the humor but the wry smile on her face said everything.  </p> <figure role="group" class="embedded-entity"><article><img alt="Thumbnail" class="img-responsive" height="1600" src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2020/2020-05/woman-of-alah-photo_1.jpg?itok=RkGsRTKF" title="woman-of-alah-photo.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" width="1200" /></article><figcaption>Shirin Neshat “Woman of Allah” series, B &amp; W photograph with writing, 16 x 12 inches</figcaption></figure><p> Maybe the meanings of this work are more layered now but the intellectual structure is an immovable object. It's easy for us to forget what actually happened in Iran, especially when no one wants to talk about it, understand how we created it, or understand how painful and unforgettable that history was.</p> <p><strong>KC:  </strong>There is diversity to the work despite the overarching theme. One aspect is the timelessness of the work despite the world's changing political climate. Can you explain why, for a collector, this type of work maintains its significance and some idea of moving forward; what to watch for in future purchases?</p> <p><strong>GS: </strong> Well its true. I started collecting Russian nonconformist works in the 1980s and then worked on a couple of projects with Alexander Kosolapov and later moved on to work emerging from China and all along have picked up a few things pertaining to domestic politics.  In art, up until today, you see the major economic, political, and cultural geographies represented in the context of their place in history. The less visible cultures are rarely represented. A niche cultural, geographical or event driven addition to a collection is not a bad idea.  My advice is to choose what you love and what lays down a marker for you in your life. A good thing about art is that it doesn’t command a particular political point of view but contextualizes and at least permits its expression.  </p> <p>As to timelessness, all I can say is that the world moves slowly. Very, very, slowly. An art collection allows you to see your life and appreciate it in the context of your visual experiences every day you walk into that special room that holds that memory. Sometimes art reminds us of what we should be thinking about when we would be otherwise occupied with the mundane. Plus it can be a lot of fun.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3941&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="evC2QYf_9JdsJ6X8AIXKjN_vjI9vhuFPUy42XvvDFi4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 29 Apr 2020 18:16:33 +0000 Kathleen Cullen 3941 at http://www.culturecatch.com http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3941#comments Video of the Week: "Le Grand Hotel" http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3940 <span>Video of the Week: &quot;Le Grand Hotel&quot;</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/webmaster" lang="" about="/users/webmaster" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Webmaster</a></span> <span>April 25, 2020 - 15:11</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/872" hreflang="en">gothic</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/faGKiq5gZfE?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>American-born, Paris-based actress/singer/director <a href="http://www.arielle-dombasle.com" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Arielle Dombasle </a>is an international pop culture icon. Her much-publicized marriage to philosopher/writer Bernard-Henri Lévy, illustrious film career (<em>Les Ames Fortes, Miroslava</em>), and magical music career only reinforce her envied status. Her latest work is the magnificent "Le Grand Hôtel," a gothic alt-rock ballad from her next album <em>Empire</em> (UMG) to be released June 19th, 2020. The song was written by her video co-star and musical foil Nicolas Ker. This is her second album with Ker. </p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3940&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="CWvcVG7-9DwGJAtks3Zn__zysYYA6ICvEjymOsbEaV4"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 25 Apr 2020 19:11:18 +0000 Webmaster 3940 at http://www.culturecatch.com http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3940#comments A Horse Is A Horse Of Course... http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3939 <span>A Horse Is A Horse Of Course...</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/webmaster" lang="" about="/users/webmaster" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Webmaster</a></span> <span>April 19, 2020 - 13:16</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/art" hreflang="en">Art Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/668" hreflang="en">group show</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/nrAMTpQjLZc?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>"A Horse Walks in a Bar"</p> <p>Curated by D. Dominick Lombardi</p> <p>Hampden Gallery at UMass Amherst</p> <p>From 7th March 2020</p> <p>During the Covid-19 lockdown, artists and their many patrons have had to go completely digital to view any new work. With that in mind, Culture Catch writer/artist/curator D. Dominick Lombardi takes us on a digital stroll thru his latest curated spectacle which examines humor in the world of fine art. Sadly, the show itself was only open to the public for two weeks prior to the entire world's shutdown. But thankfully his narrated YouTube video above offers some historical context to the whit and whimsy represented by many of the artist in the show.  It's far more engaging than just a rote history lesson.</p> <p>"A Horse Walks Into a Bar" features pieces that reflect a very broad range of humor by artists: Isak Applin, Michelle Burdine, Chris Bors, Sally Curcio, Cynthia Consentino, Don Doe, Matthew Garrison, Rina Goldfield, Bill Gusky, Scott Hatt, Todd Herzberg, James Hilger, Amy Johnquest, Maria Karametou, Alex Kvares, Rick Krieger, China Marks, Nicholas Moore, Kirk Nachman, Brian Novatny, Rachel Phillips, David Terry, Brian Turkowski, Hans Van Meeuwen, Lucy White, and Robert Zott.</p> <p>The video was created by Erin Alzapiedi, Fine Arts Center Marketing Assistant and UMass Amherst Class of 2020 and overseeing the production was Melissa Breor. Footage collected by Rosie Cruz, Director of Operations at the Fine Arts Center, and Lyle Denit, Facilities Manager at the Fine Arts Center.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3939&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="J5lPVymAAh1r_fyBHDTUVYuwpGzlB7SsaxK1wj4tyKY"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sun, 19 Apr 2020 17:16:43 +0000 Webmaster 3939 at http://www.culturecatch.com http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3939#comments Christ Like Me http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3938 <span>Christ Like Me</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/users/brandon-judell" lang="" about="/users/brandon-judell" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Brandon Judell</a></span> <span>April 18, 2020 - 13:26</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/film" hreflang="en">Film Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/797" hreflang="en">drama</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2020/2020-04/the-quarry-movie-still.jpg?itok=wVy2aD10" width="1200" height="800" alt="Thumbnail" title="the-quarry-movie-still.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p><em><strong>The Quarry </strong></em><strong>(Lionsgate)</strong></p> <p>Who doesn't enjoy a troubled priest film (e.g. <i>First Reformed </i>(2017);<i> The Exorcist </i>(1973))? Wikipedia lists 105 entries in the genre. But what about a movie with a tormented priest who’s not really a clergyman, but a Man-of-God murderer who's just posing as a saintly soul? And can such a sinner, reading from his victim’s Bible daily, not become devout, especially when his newly acquired flock believes he's the genuine article?</p> <p>After all, Pope Saint John Paul II insisted that "a priest is a man who offers his whole humanity to God so that God might use him as an instrument of salvation." Clearly, The Man (Shea Whigham), as he is acknowledged to in the credits, is saving souls under the moniker "David Martin," the moniker he lifted from the Minister of Christ he just half-buried in the titular quarry.</p> <p>Is that confusing? Let's just say the real David Martin, an alcoholic, while driving to his next posting in a small Texan border town, picks up The Man, who's lying on the side of the road inert. Martin takes this lifeless gent to a restaurant, where The Man drinks a whole lot of water and eats pancakes with his hands.  (The film, by the way, is based on the Damon Galgut's post-apartheid South African novel. In this adaptation, put-upon blacks have been replaced by put-upon Hispanics.)</p> <p>Well, after displaying his faulty flapjack etiquette, "Martin" hits Martin over the head with a wine bottle, and the impostor now takes his victim’s van to the border town to begin the latter’s holy duties, but not with an assured hand.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/2sgghEuYESQ?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>Luckily, when "Martin" opens his poached Bible, the First Epistle of Paul to Timothy is what shows up. Here's a very "hopeful" section of the Good Book:</p> <blockquote> <p>"But we know that the law is good, if a man uses it lawfully: knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind . . . ." </p> </blockquote> <p>Apparently, this indicates there's a possible redemption for sinners if they switch pathways, at least according to my Bible-touting sister-in-law's informed interpretation.</p> <p>So can "Martin" gain a halo in a film with a 100-minutes running time? Imagine a sort of transplanted film-noir plot with loads of sun and sand but no Coppertone, and you might guess the finale . . . or not. But believe me, it's rather worth hanging around for, and what else do you have to do nowadays?</p> <p>Having caused a stir opposite Julia Roberts in Amazon Prime's <i>Homecoming</i> and in 56 episodes of <i>Empire Boardwalk</i>,<i> </i>Whigham here, in one of his first starring roles, embraces the finessed inexpressiveness of Clint Eastwood. He's a man with a secret on the run from the police towards God. As an actor, he has to keep us guessing whether he’s scamming all of those around him with his prayers, his stigmata-like wound, and his nerve-fraying dreams about coffins. His is a solid, ultra-interior performance.</p> <p>But Michael Shannon is the life of the party here in a rather showy role as the widowed local sheriff, Chief John Moore. He's a bigot with a heart of gold with the best lines:</p> <blockquote> <p>"How do you give a redneck a circumcision? Hit his sister in the jaw." </p> </blockquote> <p>Shannon has been constantly lauded over the years (<i>The Shape of Water </i>(2017); <i>Revolutionary Road </i>(2008)), but when you see him in a really small indie, you just feel his life force flowing forth even more. His glare. His smile. You probably wouldn't even mind if he were the one who ordered you to be beaten up in a jail cell.  There's little doubt that if Shannon had started acting in the '70s, he'd have DeNiro's status by now.</p> <p>Also, quite fine is Bobby Soto as a rather volatile thief and Catalina Sandino Moreno (an Oscar nominee for <i>Maria Full of Grace </i>(2004)) as Moore's girlfriend and The Man's landlord who convincingly wears a pink housecoat in most scenes.</p> <p>Writer/Director Scott Teems' sophomore narrative feature shows great promise. No doubt with a bigger budget, a script with a few more narrative twists, a lead character who is a bit more vocal, and a few viewings of a Hitchcock offering such as <i>Strangers on a Train</i>, he will no doubt salvage all of our cinematic souls in the years to come.</p> <p>(<i>The Quarry </i>has gone On Demand as of April 17, 2020.)</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3938&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="SB-kL1GbleQCpMIgqU1XPoYFt7MC3P_stslePVtZ498"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Sat, 18 Apr 2020 17:26:07 +0000 Brandon Judell 3938 at http://www.culturecatch.com http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3938#comments A Still Life In Life Stilled Days http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3937 <span>A Still Life In Life Stilled Days</span> <span><a title="View user profile." href="/user/460" lang="" about="/user/460" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Robert Cochrane</a></span> <span>April 17, 2020 - 08:13</span> <div class="field field--name-field-topics field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Topics</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/music" hreflang="en">Music Review</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field--label">Tags</div> <div class="field--items"> <div class="field--item"><a href="/taxonomy/term/139" hreflang="en">singer-songwriter</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field--item"><article class="embedded-entity"><img src="/sites/default/files/styles/width_1200/public/2020/2020-04/john_5_july_2018.jpg?itok=GeYn8tfb" width="1200" height="900" alt="Thumbnail" title="john_5_july_2018.jpg" typeof="foaf:Image" class="img-responsive" /></article><p><strong> John Howard - "In The Stillbeat Of A Silent Day"</strong></p> <p>For half a century, the 45, the single, the seven inch, was the sole means of the cultural sharing of a song. It was a bright idea etched in spiral grooves that caught the heart and made you want to own it. An object of passion and a thing of joy. Something that you sought and wished for. It facilitated Little Richard and Elvis Presley. The Beatles and The Stones, Blondie and The Sex Pistols, Talking Heads and Nirvana. Even singles that failed became legendary artefacts. The Velvet Underground, Love, and the MC5 never troubled the charts, but if you had a 45 of theirs you had a thing of significance. A brave stab in the dark. </p> <p>The digital age made things uncertain for the 45. The charts were less of a barometer of taste. The market became more disparate and the discs got smaller and more shiny, and then the download rendered them largely irrelevant. It seemed like its days of dominance were spent. Yet a new democracy was emerging that made music instantly available. A record from decades earlier could once more challenge a new release because for some reason, an advert or a cultural event, it had again been rendered current, and this time it didn't require a physical "Rush-Release" via the record label in a physical form. It was there already.</p> <p>So the single had a rebirth. Vinyl remained the encapsulation of the finished statement, the definitive object existence of a bright idea in a picture sleeve and on wax of many different colours. The download meant no journey to a record store had to be made, though many thankfully still are. You could hear a song and send it to a friend. You didn't need to copy it onto a cassette, or a CDR. Downloads became audio postcards, literal singing telegrams. a means towards instant sharing and immediate gratification. The revolution might not have simply been televised. it had gone one swifter, it had been digitized.</p> <div class="video-embed-field-provider-youtube video-embed-field-responsive-video form-group"><iframe width="854" height="480" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/oAHbvEIp928?autoplay=0&amp;start=0&amp;rel=0"></iframe> </div> <p>The single is now a means of instant alert, a reaction that takes longer to record than it does to share. The waiting game is largely over, though we still anticipate and wait to prepare. to do things properly. In the blink of a mere month's existence, the world has become an alien place. A landscape of desertion. Culture has in many ways lost its physical hold. We cannot go to the cinema, congregate at a gig, visit a theatre. We can neither marry or bury those we love. The certainty of faith on Sundays has been paused. We have become entombed in our apartments and houses like monks on an unintended retreat. Nothing is as it was. We are all living in a time of plague. People are dying in a strangely democratic fashion across the world. We are experiencing zen and loss on an industrial scale. We cannot even comfort our dying. Hospitals have become a place of utility, exclusion and bald function.</p> <p>And so the muses are heard. They congregate like anxious birds, Those that can, write and draw and sing. Those that can't may be have forced to try to for the first time. In postcard pretty exile in Spain, that quintessentially English singer songwriter John Howard began to write some words. Pressure sometimes begets beauty as its own reward. A title came. A line he could add painterly impressions to, "In the Stillbeat Of A Silent Day." A poem set to music, it is the perfect thing to share in the song it has become. Reflective without being overly sad. Mournful yet not morose, it is a beautiful take on all that has been stilled and taken down.</p> <blockquote type="cite"> <p>In the stillbeat of a silent day</p> <p>Saved for trilled birdsong in the tree</p> <p>In my soulsearch for the lad who stayed</p> <p>Lost in the wonder for the heart it thieved</p> <p> </p> <p>In the stillbeat of a silent day</p> <p>Streets are not peopled by the noise of speed</p> <p>In the glimmer of reflected skies</p> <p>Empty of love songs we forgot to heed</p> <p> </p> <p>In the loudbreath of deserted streets</p> <p>Heaving beneath leaden clouds of ache</p> <p>In the heartlight of tomorrow's prayer</p> <p>Ears at the windows when the songbirds ache</p> <p> </p> <p>In the stillbeat of a silent day</p> <p>Doors blind the sunlight tapping soft</p> <p>As I breakstride with the dogs unstrayed</p> <p>Out to their dreams of the field-bathed croft</p> <p> </p> <p>In the stillbeat of a silent day</p> <p>Smiles beneath masks where no part plays</p> <p>Joining gloved hands for the angels care</p> <p>Cheers from the balconies' grateful gaze</p> </blockquote> <p>It is a song that musically operates along the lines of the late David Ackles. A hymn or a psalm suggestive of choirs. Lyrically it has echoes of William Blakes's "Jerusalem" and the more pastoral musings of Robert Frost, but then John Howard has always been a closet poet in the arcs and turns of his lyric writing. It ends as almost celebratory dirge reaching effortlessly towards the multi-coloured light coming through stained glass as it draws to a close. Soothing and reflective the song encapsulates a global tragedy in a personal fashion and as such brings comfort. What more could a single song hope to achieve? </p> <p>The single remains alive and relevant in these troubled times, and this one brings solace in its wake. It deserves not only to be heard, but to cherished and shared. A once in a lifetime response to a crisis we for which we were, and remain still, woefully unprepared.</p> </div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=3937&amp;2=comment_node_story&amp;3=comment_node_story" token="1xOUIDjOjh3DpO4oPWCbBj3qt6xHzVxSyZduYSMYDJw"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 17 Apr 2020 12:13:19 +0000 Robert Cochrane 3937 at http://www.culturecatch.com http://www.culturecatch.com/node/3937#comments