Two figurative artists: New take on old form

ONCE AN ARTIST has acquired the basic skills of how to draw and to mix and apply paint, he or she still has to figure out what to say and how to say it. Figurative painting, which has often taken a backseat to abstraction and newer media, has reemerged in a fresh, new way, and the work of two artists currently exhibiting on Warren Street, Hudson, Vincent Ciniglio at the John Davis Gallery and Mark Beard at the Carrie Haddad Gallery, exemplifies this change.

Ciniglio, whose exhibition opens Saturday, January 8, spoke with The Columbia Paper at his studio in New York City’s East Village last week and invited us to preview his show which opens Saturday in Hudson. Read more…

REVIEW: Even lacking context, great activist’s words resound

Becoming Frederick Douglass/ Walking the dog Theater/Space 360, Hudson

A HANDSOME BLACK MAN steps behind the lectern and begins to speak with perfect diction, rolling out his rich baritone in a formal, carefully crafted manner.

Twenty-tenners are accustomed to it. We have merely to attend a college class or turn on our television sets to find smart, educated blacks doing the business of the nation. We take it for granted.

But, in the mid-nineteenth century, how astonishing, electric, and thrilling it must have been to hear Frederick Douglass tell his story, advocate for abolition of slavery, even make the case for equality for women! He dared castigate Christians for their slave-holding hypocrisy. He dared face white-supremacist contempt, hatred, greed, and willingness to whip his kind to a bloody pulp or string him up by a short rope. He dared display his intellect before ignorant masses convinced that he could not possibly have any. Read more…

Musty Chiffon adds mistletoe to the menu

MUSTY CHIFFON, SINGER, SONGWRITER, actor and comedian, brings her outrageously feminine costumes including flowing gowns and five-inch platform shoes — and her baritone voice — to Club Helsinki this Friday. At “Mistletoe Martinis with Musty” she’ll be joined by a line-up of talented friends, among them pianist Michael Holland, Rasputina, including cellist Melora Creager, the Bindlestiff Family Cirkus, Jenny Baldwin and Alana Hauptman whom most know from her Warren Street restaurant the Red Dot, Chris and Lolly, and Sister Mary Gregory.

“It’s a chance for me to promote my friends,” said Dini Lamont, Musty’s off-stage persona. When he is not performing as an ultraglam diva, Lamont and his partner, Windel Davis, both in their 50s, run a bed and breakfast, The Inn at Hudson, on Union Street, which opened for business in 2006. The couple founded the Hudson River Theatre on Warren Street shortly after moving to Hudson in 2000. Read more…

REVIEW: ‘Painting Chuches’ depicts fading ties with broad palette

‘Painting Churches’/Walking the dog Theater with The Actors’ Ensemble/ Spencertown Academy

FOR “PAINTING CHURCHES”, gifted director David Anderson once again teams up with Actors’ Ensemble founders Fern Sloan and Ted Pugh. It’s a meeting of some very special theater talents.

In Act I, portrait painter Mags comes home to paint her aging parents and to help them move out of the family home in Boston. Fanny and Gardner Church have led successful lives, touched with a bit of fame, poetry, good silver, and attendant social perks; but now financial worries and the ravages of age require change.

The act moves along at a deceptively serene pace, occasionally allowing Fanny Church to ride her mercury from cranky, complaining witch to beautiful, loving spouse, and back again. She is deeply frightened by the slow loss of a brilliant husband to dementia. Looking toward the end-game, she is both irritated and terrified. In Sloan’s hands, Fanny’s vivacious moments seem both a lifelong part of her personality and a desperate cover for dread. Sloan is thrilling. Read more…

REVIEW: ‘Melancholy Play’ is anything but

Melancholy Play’/ WAM Theatre, Pittsfield

“MELANCHOLY”? UH-UH. Whatever this play is about (and my view of that will be addressed later), director Kristen van Ginhoven has grabbed Sarah Ruhl’s play by the neck, cherished, prodded and mocked the characters, and, in the process, dumped the audience down some Ruhl/van Ginhoven rabbit’s hole with a resounding, “Hah! Take that!”

Down there we meet Tilly (played passionately by Betsy Holt), the child/woman whose “melancholy” way of taking in the world and spitting it out to others releases something buried in each of them. It results in their passionate attachment to her. Tilly/Holt is an irresistible Holly Golightly — Shirley Temple — Judy Garland, spouting words that are always reaching.

Read more…