The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Boscobel, although not without its faults, makes for a fun evening.

The big white tent with its open arch overlooking Constitution Marsh and the Hudson River is the perfect setting for this bucolic play. Every few moments a train could be seen going up or down the west bank of the river, while as the performance continued the moon slowly rose in the night sky.

HVSF was founded 1987 with an outdoor production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Manitoga, home of industrial designer Russell Wright, in Garrison, NY. The following year, Boscobel House and Gardens agreed to host the company’s season under a tent on the estate’s grounds. Since then the company has entertained some 500,000 patrons. 

For reasons best known to himself, director Eric Tucker opted to limit his cast to five members – three men and two women – who between them performed the more than twenty parts usually played by different actors. This made for some confusion. 

July 25, 2015

The Millbrook Library’s annual exhibition by the Housatonic Camera Club is always worth seeing. This year Diana Bontecou selected two works from the four submitted for consideration by the club members who range from beginners, to advanced amateurs and professionals. The subjects included landscapes, still lifes, and nature. Almost half were in black and white and the rest in color.  

Moby Mudge’s two images were notable. One, of a hay rake sitting in a snowy field, was an abstract design of starkly contrasting black and white.  The other of a stone lying on a beach was a study in textures. The stone, almost the same color as the sand suggested a sea creature in camouflage. Both Karin and Brad Smith’s photographs were also studies of contrasting textures in various shades of gray.

1061 "Hay Rake" by Moby Mudge

Ann Wilkinson chose trees for her subjects. “Snarley Old Tree” depicted the patterns created by the tangle of twigs and branches of a Sycamore tree. In “New Birches” she portrayed the gleaming white trunks of a grove of birch trees standing erect on a small hill. 

1062 "Friend or Enemy" by Birgitt Pajarola

July 23, 2015

Diane Love’s whose work can be seen at the Moviehouse Studio Gallery in Millerton until October 8, says she “started with a box of Crayola Crayons at the age of three. “

The 45 pieces in the exhibition, “Explorations in Art.” reveals the creative progression of Love’s artistic career over 27 years. Although she has worked in a variety of media from oils and watercolors to collage, photography and monoprints, when viewed as a whole, one finds a consistency throughout. Each of the pieces, no matter the technique, is unmistakably the work of Diane Love.

1055 "Arrangement" by Diane Love

Love started in business as a dealer in English, American and Japanese antiques. Her eponymous shop on Madison Avenue was filled with an assortment of objects including marvelous arrangements of silk flowers that reflected her remarkable sense of color and sophisticated taste. 

1057 "Jardin" by Diane Love


July 19, 2015

An exhibition of 12 monumental works by artist Gene Davis titled simply "Large Works," can be seen at the Morrison Gallery in Kent until August 23. 

Davis was born and lived for most of his life in Washington D.C. Before he began to painting in 1949, he worked as a journalist covering the Roosevelt and Truman administrations. He often played poker with President Truman.

Davis, who had his first exhibition in 1953, had no formal training but learned through visits to New York's museums and galleries as well as to Washington's art institutions. He is best known for his acrylic paintings of colorful vertical stripes in luscious ice cream colors – lemon, raspberry, pistachio, and tangerine among others --  which he began to paint in 1958. 

1047 "Peeping Wall II" by Gene Davis

Although they seem carefully planned, Davis's stripe paintings were not based on any specific theories or formulas. Rather he often compared himself to a jazz musician who plays by ear, describing his approach to painting as 'playing by eye.'

1048 "Mirror" by Gene Davis

July 19, 2015

“Fleurs Fatales,” works by 12 contemporary artists curated by KK Kozik, can now be seen at the Ober Gallery in Kent. In a variety of media including sculpture, painting, drawing and photography, the pieces demonstrate the infinite number of interpretations that can be applied to a single subject. Some of the images are humorous, others serious, some whimsical and others full of mystery.

In her large (76x 60”) painting “Wallflowers” curator KK Kozik has depicted a grey wall with a door opening into another space painted bright turquoise. The door is surrounded by a collection of flower paintings of varying shapes and sizes loosely arranged in two diagonals. An orange tiger lily, irises, a sunflower and many other flowers are rendered true to life, almost as if they were botanical illustrations. Some images are more abstract and stylized. In the turquoise room a mirror hangs above an ornate mantle piece where a grey cat sits with its paw raised as if he were waving to us. Despite the bright colors and benign subjects there is something mysterious and a little disquieting about the painting. Its meaning eludes us.

Michael Berkeley’s new musical Rip! premiered this weekend at The Center for Performing Arts in Rhinebeck. As with any Berkeley production, the singing was marvelous with good harmonies; lyrics were witty and clever; yet despite good acting, wonderful costumes by Lobsang Camacho who personally sowed most of the costumes, and excellent sound design by Natalie Houle, the musical suffered from limitations. The music was not memorable and its style sounded about fifty years old. But even more narrowing was a fundamentalist dramatization of Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle” story.

The new production of Harold Prince and Stephen Sondheim’s classic Merrily We Roll Along at Sharon Tri-Arts Playhouse is a flawless marvel of song, acting, choreography, and a brassy ten-man house band that sits in the center of the stage. Every song from the original 1981 production is retained in this immaculate production.

Three Actor’s Equity actors headline this infectious revival: Jason Tam as the musician Franklin Shepard appears born to the role; Lauren Marcus as Mary Flynn supplies voice and charisma; A.J. Shively as lyricist and playwright Charles Kringas appears chameleon-like in each scene. These three friends, in a musical about the trials and tragedies of friendship, can really sing!

July 15, 2015

“Cornwall Bohemia” the new exhibition at the James Barron Gallery in Kent presents the work of 11 artists who live and work in or around Cornwall, Connecticut. Barron says he had the idea for the show last year even before he opened his gallery because the small town has such “an incredibly rich artistic and intellectual history.”

He has chosen artists he thought would work well together. Even though they are not part of a school per se, they are all influenced by the landscape and the light that is particular to that part of Litchfield County. In addition they each have a highly sophisticated response to color. 

 In Kent at the Fife and Drum restaurant Dolph Traymon, the proprietor, still tinkles the ivories at the youthful age of 96. He’s been playing the piano for 91 years, but he’s no longer sure anyone listens to him on his own turf. During his life in music he’s played with big time swing bands, played for celebrities, played in venues too numerous to recall. He plays pop, swing, and classical music. Last Saturday night he played for me two Chopin Etudes with deep emotion beyond the cerebral and the delicate lilt of keys. We agreed that Chopin was King of the piano despite the challenge of Debussy.  

First produced by the prestigious Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles in 2009, Time Stands Still by Pulitzer Prize winner Donald Margulies, has moments when your heart seems to stop either from anguish, thought, or laughter. The play explores the complicated relationship between two war journalists, one a photographer, the other a writer, after they have returned from the war in Iraq to a Brooklyn studio. Photo journalist Sarah Goodwin, expertly played with an admixture of vulnerable heroism and saintly masochistic dedication by Alicia Dempster, has returned with serious war wounds. She reveals the Amazonian sacrifices a committed feminist makes to achieve art. Aaron Kaplan, as writer James Dodd, wants to explore his more feminine side to cure his rage and troubling memories of atrocities too numerous to catalogue.

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