Week of October 24 to 30, 2011


Just as the Rich Folks in the East 70s were putting out their Skeletons, Ghouls, Ghosts, Bats, Rats, Snakes, Spiders, & Severed Heads to celebrate Hallowe'en, it began to Snow.

This didn't look at all like Global Warming

Indeed, the sudden Snowstorm was so bad that most of the trees backing the Golden Statue of General Sheridan at Central Park South were whacked down!

But a Providential God spared that huge new CPS Civic Sculpture which seems to be a man made tree loaded with huge black Inner Tubes. Thank you, Jesus!



•Last Week, Islamic Art at the Morgan; This Week, More at the Met Museum!

Splintered Souls Over on West 43rd Street: Call Beth Israel!

•Ronald Lauder's Treasures at Neue Galerie: All That Money Can Buy…

Sons of the Prophet: Not Sa'udi Arabs, But Lebanese, If You Please!

•Nicole Awai's Almost Undone Show Almost Over…

•Pete Gurney's 1974 Children Come Home To Roost at Beckett.

•Flaming Twenties Live Again in Brooklyn: Youth and Beauty!

•Ingmar Bergman's Cries & Whispers Drastically Deconstructed at BAM!

•Silver Screen/Silver Prints: Hollywood Glamour at the Grolier Society!

•Film Noir Fashions on Parade at Lincoln Center Performing Arts Library.

•Chris Marlowe's Love's Labour's Not at All Lost at Public Theatre…

•Master Pianist Alfred Brendel Gives a Master Class at Juilliard!


End of Week Rambles Summary:

Met Museum Offers Virtual Tour of Islamic Lands, Art, & Architecture: New Galleries!

Did the horrific destruction of the Twin Towers finally awaken Americans to a [perhaps guilty] Consciousness that there is a Major Religion out there about which most people know little. If anything

When was the last time you chatted with an Ismaili Muslim?

The super corpulent Agha Khan—now buried above the River Nile in a Mosque Shrine—was once the leader of this Sect.

The varieties & schisms of Islam are many & historic.

Now, the Met Museum has recreated its Galleries of Islamic, Middle Eastern, & Central Asian Arts in a remarkably designed series of chambers which give visitors a Virtual Tour of the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia, & Later South Asia.

The visual emphasis is more on the Arts & Architectures of various Cultural Areas, rather than exploring the Divisions in the Faith.

Had the Pentagon & the President realized that Iraq was peopled by not one, but THREE, Sects of Islam, perhaps they would not have been so eager to Liberate that colonially created Entity…

Nor did they seem to understand that Not All Muslims Are Arabs. Or that not all Arabs are Muslims: Some are Christian & have been so for centuries…

The Met has long possessed some remarkable artifacts & artworks from Muslim Lands, but some of them have never been seen so handsomely placed before. Or at all, if they were down in the Vaults…

Some photos of the new galleries will give you an idea of the excellence & variety of the objects & installations. [See Shots!]

This permanent exhibition begins a decade before The Prophet passed away. It ends in 1923, when the Turkish centered Ottoman Empire finally collapsed.

For those who, like Your Arts Reporter, had always dreamt of visiting Lahore or Samarkand—now not so easily accessible or safe for Westerners—at the Met Museum, you can virtually visit in Images & Objects…


Post War & Post Holocaust, San Francisco Jews Worry About the New Ost Jüden Among Them!

In the wake of the great California Gold Rush of 1849, a number of German Jews fled Europe for the American Far West. Few actually went up to the Diggings

Most settled in San Francisco & Sacramento, opening Mercantile Emporiums, selling the Miners the Picks, Pans, & Supplies they needed to find Gold Nuggets.

Levi Strauss even made them a better brand of pants!

Eventually, San Francisco's German Jews became the City's Cultural & Financial Leaders. Settled, Accepted, Secure, Prosperous, Honored, & even Celebrated!

So, you may well imagine the distrust, even fear, a group of Eastern European Jews—known disparagingly as Ost Jüden—could inspire in the Locals by resettling by the Bay. Not at all welcomed by the Old Timers.

In A Splintered Soul, a distinguished local Judge has befriended an Ost Rabbi, but warns him of the meetings he is having with some of the Newcomers.

In the event, the Rabbi has been wickedly deceived by three of his new Circle. They are not what they seem…

Believing he is executing Justice outside the Law, the Rabbi makes a Terrible Mistake

Kevin Judge designed the set for the Mint Theatre's Performance Space, but this was not a Mint production.

Nor was it a Terrible Mistake, but neither was it very compelling. Those Ost Jüden! What could you expect, after all?


Ron Lauder Has Five Suits of Renaissance Armor, Plus Two Knights Mounted on Stuffed Horses!

Although Ronald Lauder's Neue Galerie is nominally dedicated to German & Austrian Art—notably Jugendstil, Expressionism, & Moderne—a change of pace or focus is not amiss,

After all, how many Egon Scheile watercolors of young girls—with their legs spread apart—can you profitably study in one afternoon?

To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of the handsome Gallery he co founded with the late Serge Sabarsky, Lauder has filled the luxurious chambers of the great Palazzo on 86th & Fifth with Fabulous Artifacts from his Personal Treasure Trove.

There are still scores of Schieles, but Lauder's Collector Mania extends mainly from the Medieval into the 20th Century. Nonetheless, his Finds go all the way back to the 3rd Century BCE!

Most impressive—at least from a Be Prepared Point of View—are the handsomely & intricately worked & decorated Suits of Renaissance Armor on display. Two stuffed Knights are, in fact, mounted on Life Sized & Armor Clad Stuffed Steeds!

Die Schöne Adele—the most expensive painting ever bought at Auction: bought by Lauder—is very much central, flanked by other artworks of the Viennese Master, Gustav Klimt.

But there are also Masterworks by Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Vasily Kandinsky, Joseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Paul Cézanne, & Constantin Brancusi

Isn't it remarkable that Picasso was able to work so long & so spontaneously that he was able to create enough Masterworks so that almost any Really Rich Collector could have a Picasso on the wall!

Who would have thought that jars of Face Cream & varieties of Lipsticks could create such a Fortune!

A Fortune—it must be said—which Ronald Lauder is certainly not squandering or frittering away on Yachts or other Toys of the Rich!


Being a Lebanese Maronite Christian, Relative of Khalil Gibhran, & Gay: Not Easy in Nazareth…

There are Signs & Portents that Sons of the Prophet will soon move Off Broadway from its much admired limited run at the Roundabout's Pels Theatre.

The Sons in question are not sons of The Prophet Mohammad, but distant relatives of the Lebanese Poet/Philosopher, Khalil Gibhran.

Whose lasting fame rests on his book of Meditations: The Prophet. This was the Jonathan Livingston Seagull of its day, way back in the 1940s & 1950s…

They live in that part of Pennsylvania where the Amish were pleased to recreate the Holy Land with place names like Bethlehem, Nazareth, & Jordan. [Pittsburgh is neither Holy nor originally an Historic Holy Land Site.]

The Sons are Arabs, but they are Not Muslims.

Instead, they are Maronite Christians, from one of the earliest branches of the Christian Church. [In fact, the American Maronite Christian Cathedral is located in Brooklyn Heights, rather than in Bethlehem, PA.]

Both the Sons are Gay, which creates Problems.

The Eldest also has problems with his Legs.

Both have a problem with their crusty old crippled Uncle [an hilariously cranky Yusef Bulos: surely an Award Nominee!] who has moved in with them to "care" for them after the deaths of their Parents.

Joanna Gleason is hilariously Out of Control as a Book Packaging Agent who senses a Best Seller.

The Boys lost their Dad when his car crashed into a large Deer—not real; a Football Mascot—set in the Roadway as a Prank by a Star Player, who may Face Charges & Miss the Season!

As staged by Peter DuBois, the Action soon oozes out into the Audience: Sleepers, Awake!

Stephen Karam imagined the Characters & Plot, but they are all so spot on that it must be a Family Experience? Write What You Know…

Echoing William Saroyan's My Name Is Aram, the Playwright might say: My Name Is Karam!

But the Saroyans were Armenian, not Lebanese, if you please…


Why Has Nicole Awai Done Away With Structured Visions?

Trinidadian Nicole Awai has been letting her wall drawings escape onto the floors in front of them, in an odd & colorful jumble of the Real & the Fractured.

Some of the works in this recent show at the Vilcek Foundation remain on the wall, such as Specimen from Local Ephemera: Go Go Green Compression with Black Ooze.

Others lay artfully strewn on the floor, like Go Go Green.

Rather than having your Arts Reporter attempt to describe how such works Look, how about seeing a Visual from Awai's show?

The Vilcek is in a handsome Carriage House over on 167 East 73rd Street. It specializes in honoring the work of foreign born Scholars & Artists now living in the US, who have made "Outstanding Contributions to Society."

If you missed Awai's unusual Art Visions, there are handsome brochures still available. In fact, there are other strikingly designed brochures also on hand from previous exhibitions.


Whatever Became of the WASPS? Gurney's Children Shows Why They Were Doomed!

AR "Pete" Gurney has become, de facto, the Poet & Historian of the vanishing WASP Culture in New England & Upstate New York.

Who now actually eats meals in The Dining Room?

Of course, people still do summer on the sea in Cape Cod Cottages, but many of them are not now Old WASP Families…

Some of them, in fact, are Manhattan Intellectuals: Even Jewish. But then, what other kind of Intellectuals are there?

You do not look to what remains of the WASPs for Intellect

At the outset of the admirable TACT revival of Gurney's drama, the Time is 1970; the Place maybe Martha's Vineyard.

Mother [commandingly played by Darrie Lawrence] is looking forward to another summer with the Family. She has even summoned her younger son, who has married a Jewish Woman!

Her Plan for this summer is to leave this Beloved Beach House to her three children.

She is Widowed & will now marry the Man she has loved since—at her Wedding—she discovered her husband's Best Man was really the Best Man…

But, being Proper WASPs, they Never Did Anything About It.

WASPs do not behave like Common People. They have Standards. You make a mistake in Marriage, but you Soldier On!

Mother's unhappily married Daughter is planning to run off with the local Cottage Care Giver, the Mower of Lawns & Repairer of Pavements.

She believes it's True Love & her Mother is just being snotty & snobbish about her plan to abandon her hubby & kids.

Mother says he's only interested—once the Cottage is the Kids' to dispose of as they see fit—in the Land & how it can be Developed

Guess What? She's right!

Something like cutting down the Cherry Orchard to build holiday homes for the Summer People


Brooklyn Museum Beauty Not Just Pretty Faces! Architecture, Objects, Landscapes Also Dazzle.

The Poster Boy for Youth & Beauty now at the Brooklyn Museum is Paul Cadmus.

This is a handsome Oil on Canvas Portrait by Luigi Lucioni: his face of Cadmus is certainly both Youthful & even Beautiful. Almost feminine

Maturing, Cadmus would become famous—even, for some Prudes, Infamous—for his physically vibrant paintings of Bathers, Body Builders, & horny Sailors.

The Point or Premise of this fascinating show—so very many now famous American Paintings on view!—is that the Decade of the American Twenties was a watershed of what is called "Idealized Realism."

With the victorious end of The Great War, America & Americans were suddenly embarked on a New Journey into Urbanization, Mechanization, & Materialism. People now had time to Relax & Enjoy Life!

There was a new Sense of Self, a loosening of old Moral Strictures

But much of this was damped down in 1929, when the Great Stock Market Crash occurred, followed by the often dire Privations of the Great Depression.

Not only are paintings of Beautiful People on display—memorably, Thomas Hart Benton's vibrant Self Portrait with Rita—but also Landscapes, Cityscapes, & Industrials that made this a really Art Deco Decade!

There are also some powerful photo images—Ansel Adams & Imogen Cunningham—as well as sculptures.

Paul Manship—whose mythical creations adorn Rockefeller Center—is here, as is Harriet Whitney Frismuth, with Slavonic Dancer.

There are so many American Masterpieces here that you may well want to have the Catalogue to remember all these Art Deco Era Treasures


Devastating Deconstructionist Dutchman Strikes Again: Cries & Whispers as Tech Exercise.

If you had never seen Ingmar Bergman's film, Cries & Whispers, you might well wonder what effect he was intending, judging by Ivo van Hove's frenetic Deconstruction over at BAM.

Van Hove is no stranger to New York, his Dutch Reduction/Productions having been seen or re created over on East 4th Street, at the New York Theatre Workshop.

At BAM, Van Hove has imported his original Toneelgroep Amsterdam production & his ready for everything Ensemble.

Agnes [Chris Nietvelt] is dying in an isolated country house.

Her two alienated sisters, Maria & Karin [Halina Reijn & Janni Goslinga], are with her, aided by Anna, [Karina Smulders] the hard working young Nurse.

The Sisters—born into the World of the Swedish Haute Bourgeiosie—have not had happy, fulfilling lives. Least of all Agnes, who dreamt of being an Artist

We not only see her bedding being frequently changed—she cannot control her Bowels!—but we also get to see her rolling around on the floor in a smear of Blue Paint, rather like that Body Painting that was so popular some years ago, among Physical Expressionists.

There are a number of Video Cameras, Screens, Spot lights, Tripods, & Recording Machines on stage, recording or provoking the Action, so that the evening seems an Exercise in Electronic Technolgy.

Agnes is seen Nude in various situations, not least when her Dead Body must be washed free of all that Blue Paint.

Not to be Outdone, one of the two males in the cast, appears with an Open Bathrobe. This recalls that old Sophomoric Joke Book Title: The Open Kimono, by Seymour Hairs.

The woman next to me exclaimed: "Will you look at the size of his Balls!"

Ah, those Madcap Netherlanders: Is that what comes of having Head Shops all over Amsterdam?


Famed Photographers Made Hollywood Stars More Glamorous Than They Were At Home.

Movies made them Stars, but Portrait Photos made them ICONS!

This point is made over & over in Silver Screen/Silver Prints, now at the Grolier Society, but only until 12 November.

Among the famed Studio Photographers whose original silver prints are on display—are George Hurrell, Clarence Sinclair Bull, & Ruth Harriet Louise, who is credited with developing the film persona of Greta Garbo.

Some of the early Photos for Fans show Ramon Navarro, Theda Bara, Jean Harlow, & the Bros. Barrymore.

An entire case is devoted to the developing career of Elizabeth Taylor, recorded in Portrait & Production Photos. The Lens Loved Liz!


In 1940s Films Noirs, Costume Designs Were More than Just Hollywood Glamour…

Over at Lincoln Center, the Library for the Performing Arts is showing both Production Photos & Costume Designs for some Films Noirs, such as Murder, My Sweet.

Among the designers represented are Bonnie Cashin & Oleg Cassini.

They were designing not only to emphasize Character, but also to enhance Mystery & Intrigue.

Not only that: they were creating Wartime Fashions Women Movie Goers would want to have for themselves!

But, because there was a War on, fabric was strictly rationed, so the dresses, blouses, & sports outfits had to be skimpier, slimmer than Pre War & Post War.

Also, there were no Silk Stockings: stylish women painted them on, including a long seam line down the backs of their shapely legs…


Anonymous Did Not Write Love's Labour's Lost: But the Public Theatre's Production Is Dynamite!

What a Season for Shakespeare!

Or for Marlowe, Bacon, or Anonymous, depending on your choice for the Authorship of Shakespeare's Plays

Two of the most difficult of the Bard's Dramas have both received Outstanding Productions this Fall.

First, Cymbeline—over at the Barrow Street Theatre—its Convoluted Plot made an absolute occasion for Hi Jinx & Merriment.

Now, we also have Karin Coonrod's inventive staging of Love's Labour's Lost at the Public Theatre.

This is a play about Poetry & its possible uses in advancing Affairs of the Heart.

The Cascades of Verbal Invention, Classical Allusions, & Apposite Imagery must have absolutely Baffled Shakespeare's Groundlings at the Globe.

But—up in the Lords' Room of the Globe—Educated Aristocrats must have been delighted with the Conceits of Berowne, artfully & sexily played down at Astor Place by Nick Westrate.

Having suffered through a number of LLL's at various American, Canadian, & British Shakespeare Festivals—see my The Shakespeare Complex—where actors generally struggled to enunciate the words & phrases clearly, for me, the underlying Magnetism of Destined Lovers was usually Dead in the Water.

The Premise of the Drama is that Ferdinand, King of Navarre [Hoon Lee], has sworn three Attendant Lords to an Isolated Retreat—free from Female Distractions—where they will make & recite poems for each other.

Even Shakespeare's Groundlings would know That Wasn't Going To Last Long, once a Deputation of Women from the French Court arrived, to be encamped outside the Male Dominated Castle.

Then there are also the Clowns, marring measures & making merry, but in such a way that the Ideal Spectator would have to have had a Classical Education, in order to recognize the Jokes & Parodies.

Karen Coonrod has triumphed: The very physical/visual Clowning—quite aside from what is spoken or sung—is so hyper & hilarious that the entire drama speeds along. I was sorry when it was over…

Especially delightful was the frenetic clowning of Steven Skybell as the fusty Pedant, Holofernes.


Play Along with Master Pianist & Teacher Alfred Brendel: Dual Steinways at Juilliard!

Because I made the mistake of thinking Sunday, 30 October, was the end of Daylight Saving Time—changing all the Clocks accordingly: Fall Backward!—when I arrived at the Juilliard's Paul Hall for Alfred Brendel's Master Class, almost all the seats were taken.

Thus, I was not able to watch Master Pianist Brendel work at the Keyboard with two talented young pianists.

This was a Real Loss, but they surely video taped this session, so a call to the Juilliard ought to help you to see how Brendel helps young pianists do more than just hit the right notes very loudly…

The Class began with Brendel receiving a Distinguished Award from the Juilliard, after which he went to sit in the auditorium, to watch the performance of the Lysander Trio: Violin, Cello, & Piano.

When he returned to the stage, he not only gave thoughtful advice to the young pianist [Liza Stepanova], but also to violinist Itamar Zorman & cellist Michael Katz. Several passages were worked on.

For the two pianists, however, a Second Steinway was moved beside the Concert Grand, so Brendel could even play along, to show the Juilliard Students how to bring out the expressiveness in the scores.

It's one thing to hit all the right notes, in tempo, but the Markings above the Staffs require some sensitive interpretations.

Lento, Adagio, Vivace ma non troppo, Allegro assai: What did Franz Schubert or Franz Liszt really mean by those terms?

Should a Lento in Schubert's Piano Sonata in C Minor have the same value as one in Liszt's thundering showpiece, Vallée D'Obermann?

It was amazing to watch Alfred Brendel feel various passages with his entire body, responding emotionally to the music.

You may be able to read music, even a Schubert Score, but how can you make that music your own? Or, even better, feel what Schubert felt as he wrote it & then played it?

Well, you take a Master Class with Alfred Brendel…

Having watched Brendel participate in a Salzburg Festival Panel about recordings—CDs & DVDs—this past summer, it was a revelation to see him working with the fledgling Pianists: Jiayan Sun & Giuseppe Mentuccia.



This Week's Rational Ratings—

Alan Lester Brooks' A SPLINTERED SOUL [**]

Stephen Karam's SONS OF THE PROPHET[***]

A. R. "Pete" Gurney's CHILDREN [****]

Ivo van Hove's Reduction of Ingmar Bergman's CRIES & WHISPERS [***]

WS's [or] Christopher Marlowe's LOVE'S LABOURS LOST [*****]



Caricature of Glenn Loney in header is by Sam Norkin.

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