Globe staff writer June Wulff caught up with Donald Chapelle, the founder of Brilliant Ice Sculpture, who has been creating frozen art for First Night Boston for more than 20 years. For this year's festivities, he carved "Orca," which will be on display in Boston Common near the Brewer Foundtain. The North Andover artist talked to us about his ice-carving career and the process from start to finish.
Call it the Ghost of Artistic Directors past.
When watching the current production of "A Christmas Carol'' by the Trinity Repertory Company in Providence, which runs through Dec. 31, it's hard not to think about the legacy of Adrian Hall, who led Trinity Rep from 1963 to 1989 and now, according to a spokeswoman for the theater company, lives in New York.
For one thing, Trinity Rep is performing Hall's adaptation of "Christmas Carol'' for the 34th year in a row. (He adapted the Charles Dickens classic with then-musical director Richard Cumming, who died last year at age 81). For another, fully half of the current resident acting company was brought to Trinity Rep by Hall, along with resident set designer Eugene Lee and costume designer William Lane.
The legacy of Hall also lives on in Project Discovery, now in its 43rd year, which allows students to see live theater at discounted student matinees. (More than one million students have participated in Project Discovery over the decades, according to Trinity Rep spokeswoman Marilyn Busch).
Hall's impact on Trinity Rep can be measured not just inside the theater but outside it, where there's a one-way street connecting Washington and Fountain Streets that is called, fittingly, Adrian Hall Way.
The NKOTBSB reunion tour will close out 2010 in high style. Boston's own New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys will perform on "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve with Ryan Seacrest 2011," a four-hour show that begins airing at 10 p.m. on Dec. 31. The two '90s boy bands are touring together next summer and will hit TD Garden on June 4.
(AP photo: Members of New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys, from left: Donnie Wahlberg, A. J. McLean, Joey McIntyre, Nick Carter, Jordan Knight, Howie Dorough, Danny Wood, Brian Thomas Littrell, and Jonathan Knight.)
By now, everyone in Boston knows Shaquille O'Neal likes to have fun and be the center of attention. Since joining the team, the Celtics' new forward has posed like a statue in Harvard Square and handed out presents to kids as "Shaq-a-Claus." Now he's preparing for his debut as the conductor of the Boston Pops. The Pops announced this afternoon that Shaq will guest-conduct their performance of "Sleigh Ride" Monday night during the Holiday Pops concert.
If there's something we could do without, it's all those lists everyone puts together this time of year. Time.com doesn't just have one list -- it has 50, everything from Top 10 Political Gaffes (Martha Coakley ranks No. 7 for calling Curt Schilling a Yankees fan) to Top 10 Twitter Moments (whatever those are). Sometimes, though, you discover something or someone new. Like Carly Sakolove. A Hingham native and Boston Conservatory grad, Sakolove is the voice behind a video montage of Broadway divas that's blowing up on YouTube. The clip, which is one of Time's Top 10 Talented Web Videos, is Sakolove doing pitch-perfect impressions of Bernadette Peters, Elaine Stritch, Julie Andrews, Judy Garland, and Liza Minnelli, among others, while singing "Send in the Clowns." Sakolove, who lives in New York now, told us she posted the video in August and it quickly generated traffic on YouTube. "We were hoping for, like, 1,000 hits the first week and we got, like, 15,000." The 24-year-old performer said she's even been offered jobs by people who've seen it. "I just booked three nights, and I'll be including the divas," said Sakolove. Take a look:
(Filed by Mark Shanahan)
On November 30, the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C. removed a video by David Wojnarowicz from its show about same sex themes in American portraiture, "Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture."
The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston is one of a number of museums around the country to respond to the controversial decision by putting the video on display. It will be screening in a fourth floor gallery until Christmas Eve.
The video, called "Fire in My Belly," was objected to by the Catholic League and several members of Congress, including John Boehner and Eric Cantor, who characterized the inclusion of the video as a misuse of taxpayer funds.
The museum consented to the demands for its removal, sparking counter-accusations and protests.
The video is a surrealistic collage of imagery filmed in Mexico. It is also a response to the AIDS-related death of Wojnarowicz's friend and colleague, Peter Hujar (Wojnarowicz himself died of AIDS-related complications in 1992, at the age of 37.) It was edited from its intended length of 30 minutes to four minutes, and optionally accessed by visitors via a small touch screen.
The removal of the video, which shows, among other things, ants crawling on a crucifix, has in turn caused an outcry, with many cultural organizations and opinion writers strongly condemning the move as an act of censorship.
Kriston Capps, writing in the Washington City Paper, revealed that the controversy was sparked by an article by the reporter Penny Starr, who works for the Media Research Center, a conservative advocacy organization.
According to Capps, Starr wrote to members of Congress on both sides of the House, seeking a response to her article:
"The federally funded National Portrait Gallery, which is part of the Smithsonian, is running an exhibition through the Christmas season that features an ant-covered Jesus and what the Smithsonian itself calls 'homoerotic' art," she wrote. "Should this exhibition continue or be cancelled?"
Responses came from Boehner and Cantor, among others. Boehner's office later confirmed that Boehner had not seen the exhibit. Niether, however, did he or Cantor directly pressure the Smithsonian, according to Capps. Rather, it was a question of the Smithsonian caving into fears of a public outcry and a political storm.
The National Portrait Gallery gets its funding from many sources - not just the federal government. One of those sources, the Andy Warhol Foundation, has contributed to the current show, and has threatened to stop their funding of future shows if the video is not reinstated.
This time they've rounded up what seems to be the entire school to do a music video put to some of Lady GaGa's hits. Apparently the students from the film editing classes were not invited, as the video is too long at nine minutes. But it'll brighten your day for as long as you stick with it.
It's the second time they've pulled this sort of thing off in the last few months. This was the first. Equally fun.
For your next one, do this!
How long has Howard been threatening to leave? A year? Two years? For those loyal listeners to his satellite program, the will-he-stay-or-will-he-go drama has been the stuff of intrigue. Was Howard tired of doing a show? How would Artie's troubles factor in his decision. Fear not. The self-described "King of All Media" has signed a new, five-year deal to keep him in my car.
"I know what I have done in his company," Howard said with customary modesty. "I am more important than Oprah, in this company anyway."
I agree. See.
The San Francisco Symphony knows how to throw a party. Celebrating its centennial in 2011-12, the orchestra has invited to its own hall the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the BSO . Each of these groups will appear separately over the course of the season, with the Bostonians slated for Dec. 6 and 7, 2011.
On those dates James Levine will lead two programs drawn from the center of the current Levine/BSO repertoire including Elliott Carter's Flute Concerto (with Elizabeth Rowe), John Harbison's Symphony No. 4, Mahler's Symphony No. 1, and the Second Suite from Ravel's "Daphnis et Chloe." A BSO spokesperson confirmed that the West Coast dates will be part of a larger tour but could not confirm the additional cities or dates at this time. The BSO last played the Bay Area in 1996.
Also slated for San Francisco's centennial party is a two-week "American Mavericks" festival with world premieres by John Adams and Mason Bates as well as works by John Cage, Morton Feldman, Carl Ruggles, Edgard Varese and Charles Ives. Meredith Monk, Jeremy Denk, and the St. Lawrence String Quartet will be among the soloists. Most ensembles have not yet announced their 2011-12 seasons, but it's easy to predict that this mavericks festival will be one of the most exciting events that any big American orchestra will put before its public next year. The San Franciscans under Michael Tilson Thomas will also tour portions of the festival repertoire to Chicago, New York, and the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. The maverick programs won't be coming to Boston.
And this year, drum roll, please, the, er, honor, goes to the Bay State's very own Cooks Source magazine. If you didn't follow the flap, it's all right here. It went like this. Author writes story for one publication. Second publication (Cooks) lifts that story, edits it, prints it, doesn't pay author. Author complains. Cooks editor mocks author. Author takes to Internet. Internet beats up Cooks editor until Sunderland-based magazine surrenders and goes out of business. The end.
As bad as the Cooks Source disaster was, we think the runner-up in Regret the Error's contest is just as much a doozy. In November, The Independent in the U.K. printed a huge cover story, showing a man in uniform with these words over his face: "Wanted for the deaths of 430,000 Jews. Evaded justice for 67 years. Died a free man."
Riveting stuff, right? The story inside detailed the life of an alleged Nazi war criminal named Samuel Kunz. There was just one tiny problem. That photo on the cover, of the guy in uniform. Not Kunz, it turns out, but a Croatian actor named Ljubomir Jurkovic.
This alarming, macabre, and swarmingly beautiful picture shows an upper-class Mexican woman undergoing breast cancer surgery in the late 18th century. She's cradled by a monk, attended to by a surgeon and his assistant, and surrounded by her household retinue. The room is elaborately furnished with lavish wallpaper, a patterned rug, a decorated folding screen affording privacy, and a private altar surrounded by an array of religious images.
The picture, acquired by the Davis Museum and Cultural Center at Wellesley College in 2003, is an ex-voto - a devotional painting commemorating a miraculous incident in the life of the person who commissioned it (in this case, the woman). Ex-votos might memorialize a divinely assisted rescue from calamity, or a cured illness.
So many things about the picture astonish and intrigue. The subject matter, to begin with: Its candor is arresting. Surgery can't have been pleasant in the 18th century. This picture, with its waterfalls of blood and grotesquely severed tissue, makes that abundantly clear. In the days before anesthetic, not even wealth - which this woman evidently enjoyed - could protect you from the agonies inflicted by the scalpel.
To have these horrors depicted in such a dizzyingly ornate and feminine setting is strange indeed. The disparate patterns on altar cloth, rug, wall, folding screen, bedspread, and dresses all compete for attention, like one of Matisse's hyperventilating Nice interiors. The picture's optical intensity is reinforced by the hypnotic color key: clashing reds and pinks of shifting character set off by cooler blues and white.
The picture's provenance is almost as interesting as its subject matter and style. It was acquired in Mexico in 1938 by André Breton, the French poet and leader of the Surrealists.
The communist Breton had traveled to Mexico to champion the cause of Surrealism and to meet with Leon Trotsky (who had been granted asylum by the Mexican government). He stayed, as did Trotsky, with Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo. (Trotsky had an affair with Kahlo.)
Breton praised Kahlo's work for its "innate" Surrealism. But then, Breton found Mexico itself innately Surrealist. And having collected on his trip folk art, Day of the Dead toys, photography, and other examples of native art, he returned to Paris and organized an exhibition, "Mexique."
That show, held in 1939, included this painting. It was intended to provide historical context for Kahlo's highly personal and psychologically disruptive work. In an article about Mexico published in the magazine "Minotaure" around the same time, Breton reproduced it alongside similarly dramatic works from the 19th century, reinforcing his tendentious take on Mexico as a bizarre and violent place. (Deplorable, unless you happen to have read the news lately.)
While Breton's interest in the painting is fascinating, he should not be allowed to have the final word. For the real story the picture tells is one of fear, piety, and mortality. The text framed by the lavish rococo border at the bottom of the painting describes gratitude on the part of woman for the successful removal of six cancerous tumors from her breast.
In smaller text, another caption was added a short time later: "Although the wound closed perfectly on the 26th July, 1777, other accidents befell her from which she died on Friday, the 5th of September, at 3 p.m."
The Frances Stark show currently at the List List Visual Arts Center at MIT is packed full of wit. It's brainy - lots of literary references, lots of text, lots of layers. But it has plenty of visual verve, too.
This image, for instance, is a large-scale collage - lending ironic force to what's written on the piece of paper the depicted woman is reading (also the work's title): "Why should you not be able to assemble yourself and write?"
Stark's art is filled with humor and pathos. One work that's impossible to reproduce is a PowerPoint presentation displayed on a laptop. It's called, mischievously, "Structures that Fit My Opening." (The display of the title is accompanied by canned laughter.) The work combines text, photographs, and soundtrack, and it's brilliantly done. In fact, having seen it, it's easy to imagine a whole new art form arising from the PowerPoint presentation. The text includes forlorn statements about Stark's "habit of loitering in the gaps between work and life" and her longing for "ecstatic reciprocal attention-paying."
Try that out on your partner next time you fight: "You don't give me what I need any more!"
"What's that, then?"
"Ecstatic reciprocal attention-paying!"
Thanks to New York Times writer Deborah Solomon and an interview with Steve Martin that did "not meet the standard of excellence that you have come to expect from 92nd St. Y," the Jewish Community Center of the North Shore will get some free programming.
The JCC had partnered with New York's 92nd Street Y by simulcasting Solomon's sit-down with Martin -- as part of its "Live from the 92nd Street Y" series -- to North Shore members. Unfortunately, the interview didn't go as well as the Y hoped, and members of the New York audience began to get irritated that Solomon wasn't asking Martin enough about his acting career. Apparently, Solomon was focused on Martin's opinions about art -- his new book "An Object of Beauty" is set in the New York art scene.
Leigh Blander, a spokeswoman for the JCC, said her audience was similarly frustrated. Watching from Marblehead, the JCC audience began snickering at Solomon's questions, which ignored Martin's career as an actor, comedian, musician, and writer. "Yeah, people were actually kind of giggling a couple of times," Blander said. "She just seemed so out of touch with was actually going on."
The Y in New York is offering refunds to its members and sent an e-mail with the note above, that the program did not meet its "standard of excellence." The Y also reached out to the JCC, offering its Marblehead partner a replacement program, free of charge.
"We have three picked out all ready," Blander said, adding that her group is especially interested in Ira Glass's interview with "The Blind Side" author Michael Lewis, which is scheduled for February.
Since the JCC offered the simulcast to members for free, no one was angry about the quality of the programming, Blander said. In fact, the crowd was excited besides Martin answered a Marblehead question live during the interview. "They mentioned the us at the beginning of the interview, so everyone cheered. We had 'Steve Martinis' beforehand. We were sort of enjoying the Manhattan-Marblehead connection."
(Filed by Meredith Goldstein of the Globe staff.)
On Saturday in Symphony Hall James Levine was presented with the Ditson conductor's award for his devotion to American music. And the Dutch composer Louis Andriessen has won the prestigious 2011 Grawemeyer award for his Dante opera "La Commedia." You can hear a bit of the music above.