This year’s Crossing Borders Festival at Two River Theater Company had a timely theme: Cuba. Cuban and Cuban-American playwrights arrived in Red Bank for five days of readings by some of the most talented artists from “on and off the island.” It all began with a neighborhood party attended by Cubans from all over New Jersey, and featuring music by the award-winning musicians David Oquendo and Juan Wust. You may be able to catch them in person at Cubacan in nearby Asbury Park, where they play regularly. Tune in to the season premiere of State of the Arts on October 4, 2015, to hear more music, and to meet playwright Rugelio Martinez. Martinez arrived in America on the Mariel Boatlift when he was nine. Two River Theater presented a reading of his new play, Cocktail Time in Cuba.
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Most years, photographer Donald Lokuta can be found at the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. Donald’s interests are varied, and his photographs reflect it – another one of his series is called “Plato’s Cave,” and features people pondering stark black skies (there’s philosophy to explore here!) A new story premieres June 28 on State of the Arts NJ about Donald’s 16-year friendship with, and photographs of, the late sculptor George Segal. An exhibit of the photos is on view through July 31, 2015 at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers in New Brunswick, and they’ve published a book as well: George Segal in Black and White: Photographs by Donald Lokuta. Donald Lokuta is a professor at Kean University.
The Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater has made NJPAC its second home. Molten glass airplanes and installations made with old bottles – artists explore ideas in a new show at Wheaton Arts. A photographer adds to her collection of deeply-personal self-portraits. And find out why New Jersey is the Poetry State. (Premieres Sunday, 5/31.)
The New Brunswick Jazz Project features women leaders throughout March in all of their locations – and on Thursday, March 12, State of the Arts NJ will be at Hotoke to film the Virginia Mayhew Quartet. The Jazz Project brings top talent to New Brunswick by taking advantage of being near the world-class jazz scene in New York, and by booking mid-week. VIrginia Mayhew is one such talent. In addition to her recordings with others, the West Orange resident has six releases as a leader. Downbeat selected her CD, “Mary Lou Williams – The Next 100 Years,” as one of the Best New Releases of 2012.
Our story featuring the Virginia Mayhew Quartet will air on NJTV and WHYY on the April 5 episode of State of the Arts NJ; we’ll be posting it online too.
Nigerian Monarchs at the Newark Museum, new photographs by Wendel White that delve into the mysterious history of everyday objects, eyewitness drawings from the Chelsea Manning trial find new life in a gallery, and we visit with identical twin sisters Nalani and Sarina Bolton – they’ve been making music together since they were kids. Now, at the age of 21, they’re making it their career.
Premieres on Sunday, March 15 at 8 PM on NJTV.
For our March show, State of the Arts NJ went to the Cape May County Museum to see photographer Wendel A. White at work. White had been given permission to document a rarity, a woman’s Ku Klux Klan robe. It looked like an old-fashioned nurse’s uniform gone terribly wrong.
White travels around to museums and libraries seeking items that speak to the African-American experience, from the first slave boat through the Civil Rights era. His new exhibition at the NJ State Museum, Manifest, features a wide selection of his finds, from a slave-collar to the plain white boxes that hold Malcolm X’s FBI files. Manifest is an ongoing series, and the Klan robe is a new addition.
We watched White at work, tilting the lens on his large format camera just so, creating a very narrow depth of field that lets much of the object go out of focus. He remarked that this technique relates to his belief that we never see the past clearly, but with a selective focus that changes over time. This photograph of the woman’s Klan hood is just one of many that White took that day. The robe was made available to White from an unidentified cultural organization, not the Cape May County Museum. The KKK, it seems, is still recent enough history to make simply owning a robe uncomfortable.
Wendel White is giving gallery talks at the NJ State Museum on February 20 and May 8, or tune in to our story on March 15 to hear more about his work.
Being a New Jersey native, acclaimed singer-songwriter Pete Yorn grew up knowing about The Stone Pony and, of course, it’s patron saint Bruce Springsteen. He’s played the legendary Asbury Park music venue many times since his career skyrocketed in 2001 with the release of his debut album musicforthemorningafter, but never solo… until recently.
The show was sold out, the fans were appropriately rowdy, the requests were flying, and we were there. Check it out:
And here’s a bonus clip of Pete Yorn playing his hit single “Relator”.
Tonight at the South Orange Performing Arts Center, three choreographers honored with New Jersey State Council on the Arts Choreography Fellowships will showcase their work, followed by a discussion moderated by dance critic Robert Johnson. We’re working on a story for our next show about one of them, Randy James, now a three-time fellowship winner. 10 Hairy Legs is his company – it’s all male, and they perform work by many choreographers, including James. See his “Pillar of Salt” tonight, and tune in October 26 for more.
State of the Arts NJ is entering a new partnership with NJ Monthly, the statewide magazine. In their July issue, Deborah and Mary Waddington are featured. Daughter and mother are both artists, one a sculptor, the other a photographer. They are part of a lineage of Quaker women artists who have been in the Salem County area for generations. We were intrigued, and made a trip to Salem to visit Deborah and Mary in person. In this preview of a story that will appear on our 2014-15 season premiere airing September 28th, we met Deborah at her waterfront studio home, and went on a photographic field trip with Mary to a local organic farm. In this rural corner of New Jersey, both these artists have crafted a world focused on beauty.
Artist Robert Smithson (1938-1973) is best known for “Spiral Jetty”, a massive earthwork built on the shore of the Great Salt Lake in Utah. But Smithson, a native of New Jersey, produced many of his works using materials from the Garden State. These are gathered together for the first time in the exhibit “Robert Smithson’s New Jersey” at the Montclair Art Museum.
Recently, State of the Arts visited the MAM exhibit, and spoke with Chief Curator Gail Stavitsky about Smithson’s legacy, and his relationship to New Jersey.
A giant of 20th century American art, Smithson’s work can be seen all over the world – but some of his most important contributions to art history are rooted firmly in New Jersey. His signature “Nonsite” pieces included geologic materials from Bayonne, Edgewater, Franklin, and the Pine Barrens.
Get the whole story on State of the Arts, airing Sunday, May 18th!