Sunday, June 19, 2011

Some Noteworthy Events and Reading Suggestions

 By Charles Kessler

Christine Goodman
There are a few Jersey City related events worth noting — unfortunately this is the only one that can still be seen (until June 23rd) — Jersey City’s own Christine Goodman, Art House Production’s energetic founder and Executive Director, is the lead in an intense play in Brooklyn. It’s a dream part for an actor and Goodman nails it, exhibiting great power and emotional range — a real tour de force. The play, What’s in a Name, is part of the BoCoCa Arts Festival (for Boerum Hill, Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, three adjoining neighborhoods in Brooklyn) and, like all the plays in the festival, it takes place in an unconventional venue — in this case a small room in the back of the Ceol Irish Pub. This adds to the tension and makes the theater experience even more extreme. DON’T MISS IT.
Click here for tickets.
They are only $15 in advance ($18 at the door) and Smith Street, where the theater/pub is located, is one of the liveliest and most interesting urban streets around.

Jersey City photographer Edward Fausty had a major exhibition of his otherworldly digital pictures of night scenes at the Hunderdon Art Museum. (For some reason I can’t make a hyperlink here -- you need to copy and paste the address:  It closed last week, but I believe it was important enough to at least document here. The subtle, glowing color and velvety surfaces make these some of the most painterly photographs I’ve ever seen. A better place to view this work online is Fausty’s website.

Edward Fausty, House and Tree, Mt. Wilson Observatory, CA. (#3682), 2010, 25 x 34 inches

The Times and the Star Ledger reviewed Nimbus, a Jersey City dance company, so you don’t need my input. Suffice to say that for less than 20 dollars you got to sit a few feet away from first-rate professional dancers performing some of the best of Martha Graham as well several new works choreographed for this group.


Long-form articles, like those found in the New Yorker or The Atlantic, haven’t been completely obliterated from the web. In fact there seems to be a small revival, possibly thanks to such free apps as Read It Later and Instapaper that let you save the text of a web page for future offline viewing, and websites like Long Reads, Long Form and my favorite, The Browser, that recommend long-form articles. These sites are not automated news aggregators but are run by actual human beings (what will they think of next?) who select the work and provide brief summaries to help you decide if you’re interested in reading them.

Here are two examples of long-form articles I found via The Browser. Neither one is strictly about art, but both are brilliant and provide insight for the larger cultural picture.

The first is a review of  The Anatomy of Influence by Harold Bloom, the prominent literary critic. Bloom said he wrote this book at the age of 80  “to say in one place most of what I have learned to think about how influence works in imaginative literature.” The review, by Sam Tanenhaus, the editor of the New York Times Book Review, not only summarizes Bloom's own overview of his thinking (no small achievement), but he puts Bloom in the context of twentieth-century literary criticism.

One might not need The Browser to find a New York Times book review, but what are the chances you’d come across this review in the online edition of the Israeli Haaretz Daily Newspaper?
Ludwig Wittgenstein, Photographiert von Ben Richards unter Anleitung Wittgensteins, September 1947 in Swansea Quelle: Schwules Museum, Berlin © Wittgenstein Archive, Cambridge
It’s an erudite review by Avner Shapira of an exhibition in honor of Ludwig Wittgenstein, the great 20th-century philosopher, who died 60 years ago. The exhibition, in the Schwules Museum (The Gay Museum), Berlin, examines Wittgenstein’s ambivalent attitude toward his Jewish origins and his homosexuality. 

And a final bit of good news on the long-form article front: a new online book-review website has been launched, The Los Angeles Review of Books. They just published a comprehensive review  by Ben Lerner of MoMA's Ab Ex show, and an extensive and insightful review by Robert Polito of Patricia Patterson: Here and There, an exhibition at the California Center for the Arts (until September 3, 2011).
Patricia Patterson, The Conversation (Manny and Steve at the Table), 1990, casein on canvas, painted wood frame, 72 x 102 inches (Collection Maggie and Terry Singleton)
There are, of course, several typical short web articles worth reading, like this from the intrepid reporters at ArtInfo on pole dancing as art:
 ...In the end, the legal implications of the decision are clear: yes, exotic dancing can count as art — but only if the dancers' "particular moves" are something they picked up in college. 
And this from The Observer, The Guardian: Van Dyck paintings unearthed by saleroom sleuth
...A London dealer has revealed the methods that have enabled him to attribute three unknown works to Charles I's court painter. ...Philip Mould, a British dealer who once bought a Gainsborough on eBay for £120, has proved his eagle eye once again with the find, which includes two paintings sold by Christie's last year as anonymous works.
Anthony Van Dyck, Self Portrait, 1640, oil on canvas, oval 23 x 19 inches
And this beautiful photo essay of caves and tunnels from the Atlantic.
Tourists visit the Kuha Karuhas pavilion located inside the Phraya Nakhon cave, in the Khao Sam Roi Yot national park, some 300 km south of Bangkok, Thailand, on December 5, 2010. The pavillon was built in 1890 on the occasion of a visit to the cave by King Chulalongkorn, the grand-father of current King Bhumibol Adulyadej. (Christophe Archambault/AFP/Getty Images)

Charles Kessler is an artist and writer, and lives in Jersey City.

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