You-review-it Monday

November 9, 2008
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So, did you go Spirit-and-Place-ing this weekend? (I got to the "Madness and Creativity" conversation at Butler University and the remarkable "Whirl of the Divine" performance at the Central Library.)

Do some First Friday gallery hopping? (Maybe we crossed paths at IMOCA or the Harrison Center.)  

Or did you head downtown expecting to see Celine Dion only to have the concert bumped to December? (Sorry, but this one wasn't exactly high on my list.)

What were you up to this weekend?
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  • Making my monthly First Friday excursions was especially rewarding because of the opening at ArtBox.

    I would love to see photos of the Mexican studio with thrown open double doors in three walls with ceiling fans lazily making breezes where Jason Zickler devoted time developing the style and techniques dramatically presented at the opening of his solo show at the ArtBox.

    ?Jason has demonstrated that composition can be and should be an important element in abstract expressionism. Where so many never get beyond the “feelings” of freely playing with their medium, Jason builds deliberate layers with an exacting detail that is an absolute delight to behold. The swirls and patterns grow to provide a Rorschach test we can swim into.

    Each large format mixed media painting has it’s own color pallet. I found it hard to decide which was my favorite, and at this exhibition, trying to decide was part of the fun. Each work evokes totally individualistic emotional responses because of the color combinations. He celebrates light from the darkness. Positive trumps negative.

    Placing the paintings in chronological order in the two years Jason worked at creating this style can be guessed, but getting up close and examining the craftsmanship of the strokes, scrapes, blends, and the original use of drafting pen and ink is more important. He uses clear resins to fill in valleys for a smooth, glossy surface that is penetrated by protruding mounds and masses.

    The ArtBox has proven again what a premium gallery can be. Having Jason exhibit here is a great match. I can’t imagine his large works being shown as effectively anywhere else in Indy.

    To see a couple of photos taken Friday night (I don't see how to add them here) go to http://cooperfineart.com/blog.htm
  • Encore Vocal Arts: Miracles, diversity and solid Brahms

    Encore Vocal Arts breathed new life into Brahms’ A German Requiem last weekend in concerts at Zionsville United Methodist Church and Arsenal Technical High School. The requiem on its own is a richly poetic work, and conductor Chris Ludwa’s excellent chamber choir gave a nuanced account supported by a 14-piece instrumental ensemble (strings, low brass, tympani.) What made this production extraordinary were the additional elements Ludwa brought together, raising the performance to an affirmation of aspiration, healing and diversity.

    Four high school choirs took the stage alongside Encore Vocal Arts, each for one movement and then all together. The young singers from Guerin, Tech, University and Zionsville high schools showed strong preparation and no doubt learned a great deal from the experience. Damien Geter, director of the University High School choir, served double duty as bass soloist. He and soprano Jennifer Jakob sang with warmth and precision.

    Shuttling the student singers on and off stage between movements might have been a distraction, had it not been for an inspired production element that proved essential to the occasion. Five narrators—some of them singers with Encore Vocal Arts—read stories underscoring the concert’s theme of medical miracles. Recounting challenges ranging from impaired vision to Krohn’s disease, spinal bifida and refugee health in Kenya, each account celebrated what can be accomplished through determination, medical innovation and faith. Eye Surgeons of Indiana and the other sponsors are to be congratulated for their support, including singer Nancy Sonntag, who dedicated the concert to the memory of her husband Robert.

    This was an event with many moving parts, including projected English text and photos. (As Ludwa explained, Brahms innovated by rendering the traditional Latin Mass in the vernacular German.) Keep an eye on Chris Ludwa—he’s a talented conductor whose inspired programming elevates spot-on performances into thematically integrated experiences.

    Next up for Encore Vocal Arts is Handel’s venerable Messiah, December 13 and 14. Info at www.encorevocalarts.org.

    (Full disclosure department: I've got a daughter in Encore Vocal Arts. That's cool, but not enough to prompt these comments. It really was that good!)
  • I was in the instrumental ensemble for Encore Vocal Arts performance of Brahms' Requiem. Brahms wrote great double bass parts---well, he wrote great music, period. I'm really glad I finally got to play that piece!

    I concur with Mr. Henkel as well; Chris Ludwa is a really good conductor. He knew his score well, and knew how to get what he wanted out of his singers, and instrumentalists. It was great to work with him, and all the choirs.
  • I caught Golda's Balcony at the Civic Theatre last Thursday night. It was quite a departure from the musical theatre we are used to seeing at the Civic, but it was truly amazing. The 90+ minute show was put on by a solo performer without intermission. Incredible!
  • I caught four shows and read two books. The shows I will eventually write about in detail on my own blog this week, so here on Lou's blog I'll just list the shows and mention that they all close next weekend:

    Golda's Balcony at the Indianapolis Civic Theatre. (My comments on this one-woman show are already up on my blog.)

    June 8, 1968/Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? at the Phoenix Theatre. (Thursday night is Cheap Seats night and there is no performance on Sunday.)

    Evil Dead at Theatre on the Square. (Saturday night was sold out. There are only next Friday and Saturday night left.)

    Lysistrata produced by the Sapphire Theatre Company on the fourth floor of the downtown mall. (The run includes a Saturday matinee performance, which is a little unusual.)

    The two books were:

    MARY, by Janis Cooke Newman (MacAdam/Cage 2006) - A novel about the life of Mary Todd Lincoln. A doorstopper of a book that reads as easily as a steamy romance novel but with more satisfying complexity.

    MY LIFE THE MUSICAL, by Maryrose Wood (Delacorte Press 2008) - A young adult novel about two teens who are so obsessed with a certain anonymous Broadway musical that they take the train into Manhattan every Saturday afternoon to stand in line for rush tickets to see it. This was such a fun read! I learned a lot about Broadway conventions and the story reminded me a little of one of my favorite books from childhood: FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER, by E. L. Konigsburg. The teens in this book don't run away from home, but they do learn a secret.

    I walked around my house hugging Wood's book for a while after I finished reading it.

    Hope Baugh
    www.IndyTheatreHabit.com

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