The Arts Council of Princeton’s new exhibition, “Philip Pearlstein: A Legacy of Influence,” is “a labor of love,” according to curator Charles David Viera. A past ACP instructor, Viera is a former student of Pearlstein and reached out to several other students to show their appreciation to this living legend — an artist and teacher who has been called “one of the most important artists of the 20th century.”
Born in 1923 and active for more than 70 years, Pearlstein is linked to his rigorous exploration of a traditional theme — mainly the female nude in hyper-objective paintings rendered from life and structured in a manner, he says, to “hold their own if they would be exhibited alongside the abstract and expressionistic works of my friends.” The latter includes his onetime college and later New York roommate, Andy Warhol. Yet the love from his former students comes from Pearlstein’s esthetic discipline, clear vision, and encouragement for students to create “without resorting to any preconceived knowledge of anatomy or so-called correct academic measurements of proportions, color, or rules of perspective.”
The exhibition opens with a reception on Saturday, January 7, from 4 to 6 p.m., and continues through March 25. All events are free. Pearlstein himself will present a gallery talk on Saturday, February 18, at 2 p.m.
Paul Robeson Center for the Arts, 102 Witherspoon Street, 609-924-8777.
The two Small World Coffees continue to present new art by regional artists. At the shop at 14 Witherspoon Street, Samia Hafiz Shaaban will show works created after her recent retirement from a 42-year career in engineering. Her new “passion” has led to colorful, sometime luminous, abstractions and impressions similar to those seen in her solo library shows in Rocky Hill, Lawrence, and Lambertville.
At Small World’s 254 Nassau Street cafe, Morristown, New Jersey, artist and art teacher Joshua Rockland presents works imbued with “a personal, narrative quality that combines seemingly unrelated objects in an aesthetic and accessible way.” That includes the insertion of furniture, architecture, clothes and costumes, paint tubes, and brushes into portraits and self-portraits. Rockland is the son of Michael Aaron Rockland, a former Princeton resident and professor of American studies at Rutgers who has written often on “New Jerseyana.”
Both shows run through the end of January.
Small World Coffee, 609-924-4377.
Princeton-based composer (and native) Sarah Kirkland Snider is also one of the founders of New Amsterdam Records, which released two works in 2016 with Princeton connections. The first is the Roomful of Teeth’s “Partita for 8 Voices Remixes,” a work by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw, who also studies composition at Princeton University, occasionally performs with the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, and is a member of the contemporary vocal group Roomful of Teeth.
The second is pianist Michael Mizrahi’s solo piano CD “Currents” featuring Snider’s own haunting and driving composition “The Currents.” For more information, visit www.newamrecords.com or www.sarahkirklandsnider.com.
Darcy James Argue, the recently appointed conductor of the Princeton University Creative Large Ensemble in the Program in Jazz, has been nominated for a Grammy Award for his album, “Real Enemies,” in the category of “Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album.” Recorded with his 18-piece big band, Secret Society, the album has been called “an oddball masterpiece” by Fred Kaplan in Stereophile. Writing in the New York Times, Nate Chinen said “the ingenuity and urgency of the music, as executed by Mr. Argue’s state-of-the-art big band, couldn’t be clearer (or timelier).”
Vancouver-born, Argue studied at McGill University from 1993 to 1998, and moved to the United States in 2000 to study composition at the New England Conservatory of Music. Secret Society has toured extensively to destinations in Brazil, Europe, and Canada, and made three appearances at the Newport Jazz Festival.
La La Land, the critically acclaimed musical by 2003 Princeton High School alumnus Damien Chazelle, is raking in the honors even as it ramps up at the box office. The film has been nominated for a host of awards by the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild and opened nationally over the Christmas-New Years holiday. Chazelle, the writer and director of Whiplash, inspired in part by his participation in the Princeton High Studio Band, saw that film win an Oscar for best supporting actor in 2016. He may receive even more attention this year for La La Land. Oscar nominations will be announced Tuesday, January 24.
Meanwhile, watch La La Land closely for the small role played by Chazelle’s younger sister, Anna, a 2005 Princeton High alumna. She graduated from NYU, and also has more than nine years experience as a circus performer, specializing in circus-style hula-hooping and fire-dancing. She now lives in Los Angeles.
Behind the curtain: Scandal, tragedy, art and politics at the Bolshoi, by Simon Morrison. Harper Collins.
A member of the Princeton faculty since 1998, Simon Morrison earned his Ph.D. in music history from Princeton in 1997. Previous works include Russian Opera and the Symbolist Movement, The People’s Artist: Prokofiev’s Soviet Years, and Lina and Serge: The Love and Wars of Lina Prokofiev, a biography of Prokofiev’s first wife.
Jamie Saxon of Princeton’s communications department interviewed Morrison for the magazine Discovery — Research at Princeton. An except follows:
On the night of January 17, 2013, a hooded assailant approached Sergey Filin, artistic director of the Bolshoi Theater Ballet, and flung battery acid in his face. The crime made international headlines and stunned a community of artists known for elegance rather than violence. Some months later at a gala at the Kremlin, Simon Morrison, a professor of music and an expert on 20th-century Russian and Soviet music and ballet, met Filin, who had undergone numerous operations in Germany and had lost all of his sight in one eye.
“You could still see the scars on his neck from the acid,” Morrison said. “He wore these dark wraparound glasses and had an attendant with him administering drops. It was horrific, deeply macabre.”
Morrison’s encounter with Filin inspired him to explore whether the Bolshoi — a symbol of Russia presented to the world as a great cultural icon — had been roiled by these types of scandals in the past, and what that said about the institution historically and politically. He wrote a piece about the attack for the London Review of Books, prompting a literary agent to suggest that he write a book about the incident.
Morrison knew that the story of the attack, despite its tragedy, would not on its own have a lot of traction or depth as a book. He had to get into the history of the organization, explore the archives and talk with other scholars. To learn more about how art and politics intersect at the Bolshoi, Morrison began an intensive three-year research process.
The result is a richly detailed account of the crown jewel of Russian culture, considered an emblem of power by the government since its founding in 1776, according to Morrison. “It is a tale about the kind of negative pressures that lead to the creation of great art,” he said. “One of the morals of the story is that in the Soviet experience there’s something about immense censorship, repression, and threat that leads to the production of masterpieces. The Bolshoi has been burned and rebuilt and almost liquidated numerous times, yet has produced some of the world’s greatest ballets.”
His research took him into the small theater museum at the Bolshoi and the immense theater and dance archives in the Bakhrushin Museum as well as the Russian State Archive of Literature and Art and the Russian State Archive of Social Political History, which houses the records of the Central Committee (the operating division of the Stalinist government in the Kremlin), among others. He also enlisted the help of freelance archivist Ilya Magin, whom he said was indispensable for researching the Imperial era in the St. Petersburg archives. In addition, Morrison conversed with dance critics and historians in Moscow “who have lived and breathed ballet all their lives.”