Concerts, benefits, new exhibitions, art lectures and classes, and live events show that the region’s cultural organizations are moving ahead despite the pandemic to engage regional audiences with some artistic bursts of life.
Here’s a preview of things going on over the next few months:
The Princeton Symphony Orchestra will hold its first-ever virtual gala, “Hot Music for a Cold Night,” on Saturday, February 27, from 7 to 8 p.m. Host Maestro Rossen Milanov will present a program featuring beloved PSO guest artists and friends, including the duo featuring cellist Zuill Bailey and pianist Natasha Paremski; violinists Daniel Rowland partnering with cellist Maja Bogdanovic; cellist Pablo Ferrandez; composer, clarinetist, and past Institute for Advanced Study artist-in-residence Derek Bermel; hip hop musician Christylez Bacon; Princeton-born twin pianists Christina and Michelle Naughton; and the Germany-based Signum Quartet.
Organizers say participation in the gala “will help support the Princeton Symphony Orchestra through the most challenging period in its history and benefit the orchestra’s PSO BRAVO! Education Programs, which musically inspire thousands of school children annually.”
Participation levels start at $125 per access link reserved at www.princetonsymphony.org.
The Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum (SSAAM) and the Sourland Conservancy are partnering to present their next “Gospel Brunch” fundraiser on Saturday, February 20, as a virtual gospel-music concert, via YouTube, with informational segments and interviews with board members and staff.
Keith Spencer, baritone, accompanied by pianist Peter Hilliard, is the featured artist.
Known for his programs celebrating the African-American cultural experience and music of African-American artists, the Philadelphia-raised Spencer has participated in several Broadway tours; performed as concert-stage backup vocalist for performers Roberta Flack, Rosemary Clooney, and Sandi Patty; was a featured soloist with the Capital Philharmonic of New Jersey, and was a featured performer for Paul Robeson’s 120th birthday celebration at the Paul Robeson House in Princeton.
Tickets are available online for $30 per household. Event proceeds and donations will benefit the Sourland Education and Exhibit Center.
The next Westminster Conservatory at Nassau recital will be released Thursday, February 18, at 12:15 p.m., as a video embedded in the Nassau Presbyterian Church website.
Marvin Rosen, a member of the Westminster Conservatory faculty, will perform repertoire for solo piano by living woman composers, including Beth Anderson, Dorothee Eberhardt, Helen Jane Long, Dosia McKay, Rebecca Oswald, Ana Milosavljevic, Karen Tanaka, and Rain Worthington.
Known for both his concert presentations and his ASCAP Award-winning “Classical Discoveries” radio program on WPRB, Rosen has centered his performance and outreach activities on little-known music of the 20th and 21st centuries from around the world.
A new recital video is made available on the church website at 12:15 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month. The artists on March 18 will be duo pianists Phyllis Alpert Lehrer and Suzanne Lehrer.
Morven Museum and Gardens in Princeton is opening its first 2021 exhibition, “Nature’s Realm: The Art of Gerard Rutgers Hardenbergh,” with a virtual exhibition tour on Thursday, February 18, at 5:30 p.m., and on view at the historic building February 19 through January 9, 2022.
The New Brunswick-born Hardenbergh (1856–1915), the great-great-grandson of Queens College’s (now Rutgers) first president, Reverend Jacob Rutsen Hardenbergh, was a self-taught artist and ornithologist.
As Morven press materials note, “As a young man he spent time at Chadwick House, the Jersey Shore’s most famous sporting club located just south of present-day Mantoloking. His early love of wildlife became a lifelong passion for the study of birds. Splitting his time between New Brunswick and the Jersey Shore, Hardenbergh collected and preserved shore birds, sending important specimens to the Biology Department at Princeton University. Intertwined with his interest in the young field of ornithology was his development as an artist.
“At the age of 18, Hardenbergh’s paintings were exhibited at the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia where he was praised as ‘a careful and accurate ornithologist and prominent artist.’ His works were scientifically accurate and popular.
“With a studio on board his houseboat Pelican, which he moored around Bay Head, Hardenbergh became an eccentric fixture along the Jersey Shore.”
The Morven exhibit includes commercial work, porcelain designs, multi-colored prints, charts, and more.
Deputy Director Elizabeth Allan leads the February 18 virtual tour, registration required.
On Monday, February 22, Morven opens its second exhibition, “Ma Bell: The Mother of Invention in New Jersey.”
The exhibition examines the impact of New Jersey-based Bell Telephone Laboratories’ technology on our daily lives.
Named for telephone inventor and founder of the company, Alexander Graham Bell, Bell Telephone was launched in the Garden State in the 1930s, and, according to Morven coordinators, “pioneered innovations that transformed every part of modern-day life. Seismic breakthroughs came by way of the highly technical (radar, solar panels, satellites) to the personal (telephone communications). The transistor, which ushered in the digital age, was first built at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, NJ, in 1947.”
The exhibition includes original historical artifacts, products, and fields of work that “comprised the Bell System in NJ, from the 1920s to around 1984, when the Bell System monopoly divestiture created the seven ‘Baby Bells’ known as the Regional Bell Operating Companies,” say Morven materials.
Morven Museum, 55 Stockton Street, Princeton, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1:30 to 4 p.m., Timed tickets and social distancing protocols in effect. 609-924-8144, www.morven.org.
The Princeton University Art Museum is offering a series of free lectures, discussions, and programs including:
“Losing Picasso: The Challenges of Condensing a Life,” a lecture set for Thursday, February 18, at 5:30 p.m. Developed in partnership with the Princeton Garden Theater and presented by associate director of education Caroline Harris, the program use filmmakers Ismail Merchant and James Ivory’s 1996 “Surviving Picasso,” as the launching point to explore the artist, the period, the challenges the filmmakers met in the production, and the film’s “flaws” and “saving graces.” Participants are asked to view the film, available to rent on Google Play, YouTube, Vudu, Amazon Prime Video, and iTunes. Registration required.
“Art Making: Drawing from the Collections: Unique Cropping” is set for Thursday, February 18, at 8 p.m. In partnership with the Arts Council of Princeton, the live art-making class is inspired by 20th century American painter Edward Hopper’s “Universalist Church” and focuses “on creating a unique architectural composition by cropping the image and closely focusing on one aspect of a scene.”
“Art Making: Drawing from the Collections: Storytelling with Collage” on Thursday, February 25, at 8 p.m., focuses on 20th-century American painter Jacob Lawrence’s screen-print “The 1920s . . . The Migrants Arrive and Cast Their Ballots.” The session focuses on the work’s “energy and activity” and how “Lawrence’s characteristically expressive style conveys the scene with exaggerated geometries, angular figures, and blocks of color.” It is also produced in partnership with the Arts Council of Princeton.
“Art Making: Drawing from the Collections: Rendering Clothing and Drapery,” another ACP partnership, is set for Thursday, March 4, at 8 p.m. This session uses the ancient Greek “Statuette of Nike” and the goddess’s clinging garments and “the lines of her voluptuous body” to focus on “the basic shapes of clothing and the anatomy of folds to better understand the mechanics of drapery.”
And look for “Artist Talk: Glenn Ligon and Hilton Als” on Thursday, March at 11, 5:30 p.m. That’s when artist Glenn Ligon, “whose work draws on literature and history to explore race, language, desire, and identity, joins Pulitzer Prize-winning author and critic Hilton Als to discuss the ways in which art can engage and rethink the most urgent issues of our time.”
For more information or to register, go to artmuseum.princeton.edu/calendar.
The Arts Council of Princeton’s schedule of programming over the next few weeks lists the following free online workshops:
“Raise Your Flag,” on Saturday, February 20, at 1:30 p.m. is an all-ages workshop led by Dr. Ronah Harris where “participants will receive a 2×3 foot blank nylon flag and Dr. Harris will cover the impact of color, composition, lettering, sewing, and gluing. At the end the workshop you will have your own unique flag to proudly hang.” Registration is required, $35.
“Black History Month: Story & Verse: Winter Workshop” on Sunday, February 21, at 5 p.m. is designed “for artists to share works-in-progress and receive feedback from listeners. A safe place for artists to connect, these workshops are intended to be short (25 minutes for each artist; 2 artists per session), facilitated, and meaningful opportunities to fine-tune your story or poem.” Interested poets and storytellers should email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Harlem Renaissance & the Art of Collage,” on Saturday, February 27, from 1:30 to 3 p.m., features area artist “Kenneth Lewis Jr. in an exploration of the Harlem Renaissance and the collage work of Romare Bearden. Using basic supplies found around the home, learn how to utilize the power of collage as an art form! All ages are invited to join this special hands-on celebration of art, history, and the possibilities of this exciting form of creative self-expression.”
“In Conversation with Robin Resch,” scheduled for Tuesday, March 9, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., is the opportunity to meet fine art photographer and ACP artist-in-residence Robin Resch during a conversation with Timothy M. Andrews, art collector and a major supporter of the ACP’s residency program.
ACP and Small World Coffee team up for a benefit virtual master class on “The Art of the Perfect Cup” on Tuesday, March 16, at 7 p.m. The live stream features Small World experts talking about “beans, blends, and how to extract the most flavor from your preferred brewing method” as well as an “in-depth look at your favorite neighborhood coffee shop.” Registration includes the option to add a bag of Small World’s coffee and a limited-edition ceramic mug, handmade by Arts Council executive director and ceramic artist Adam Welch in the ACP’s Ceramic Studio. Tickets range from $25 to $60 with all proceeds designated to help ACP close a fiscal gap created by COVID. Register.
Don’t forget to view the ACP’s current exhibitions: “Legends of the Arts: A Black History Month Exhibit,” on view through March 6, is a partnership between ACP and Museums in Motion, a Princeton-based “traveling museum,” and commemorates “decades of culture and excellence related to some of the most notable individuals in American history.
“Legendary figures such as poet and author Langston Hughes, actor and singer Paul Robeson, and the timeless, regal Motown singing sensations known as The Supremes will be featured, to name just a few. View riveting photographs of Lena Horne, the first black woman signed to a long-term Hollywood movie contract known for her stunning beauty and effortless grace.”
Arts Council of Princeton, 102 Witherspoon Street, Princeton, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Free. www.artscouncilofprinceton.org
Grounds For Sculpture, which is open for visitors, is also offering online, hybrid, and on-site projects:
“Photography: Extracting the Abstract,” a hybrid workshop, involving live online and GFS visit sessions set for Wednesdays, March 3 and 17. Led by the New Jersey-based Visions Workshops photographers Michael S. and Beverly R. Miller, the program for adults using any camera explores “the elements of design, (color, line, shape & texture) and the principals of design (unity, balance, emphasis, similarity & contrast).” $80.
“Artbox — Terrariums,” on Saturday, March 6, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., is a family program mixing creativity, reflection, and sharing. GFS visitors with a timed admission between 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. can buy a box ($10 to $15) to decorate while knowing the purchase price goes to support family programs in Hamilton and Trenton.
Grounds For Sculpture, 80 Sculptors Way, Hamilton, Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Timed entry required, $10, www.groundsforsculpture.org.
JKC Gallery at Mercer County College in Trenton has both virtual and in person events on the schedule.
Its February Third Thursday Photo Presentation is set for February 18, from 7 to 8 p.m., with Zakiyyah Woods, a Brooklyn, New York, visual storyteller and documentary photographer dedicated to telling “accurate” community stories, and Shamir Racine, a Trenton photographer dedicated to urban exploration and capturing portraits of people of color. The monthly program is coordinated by Trenton area photographers Heather Palecek and Habiyb Ali Shu’Aib .
Heather Palecek’s “Resist Convenience,” the first one person exhibition since the pandemic shutdown, opens for in-person limited hours on Monday, March 1, and continues through April 1. A virtual opening is set for Tuesday, March 9, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Palecek is a Ewing-based internationally exhibiting analog photographer and art educator working in the mediums of pinhole photography, lumen printing, cyanotype, and mixed-media cameraless photography.
JKC Gallery, James Kerney Campus, Mercer County Community College, Trenton Hall Annex, 137 North Broad Street, Trenton. 609-586-4800. www.mccc.edu/community_gallery_jkc.shtml. To register or reserve time, visit jkcgallery.online.
Passage Theatre, Trenton’s only nonprofit professional theater, recently announced several health and pandemic-related changes to its current season.
The new schedule is as follows:
February 18 through 24: “Babel,” an online play reading of a comedy by Philadelphia playwright Jacqueline Goldfinger. A “group screening” presentation is set for Saturday, February 20, at 7 p.m.
March 18 through 21: “Surely Goodness and Mercy,” a family and young audience presentation written by New York playwright Chisa Hutchinson.
May 12 through 16: “A Twist of Water,” a mainstage production of contemporary family drama of discovery by Los Angeles writer Caitlin Parrish.
June 19: “The OK Trenton Project,” a Trenton-based story of the aftermath of what happened when a group of students created a sculpture the police interpreted as a gang sign, created by Bordentown/Trenton playwright David Lee White, Philadelphia playwright Richard Bradford, and members of the OK Trenton Ensemble.
For more details and ticket information, contact Passage Theater at 609-392-0766 or www.passagetheatre.org.
The Bucks County Playhouse in New Hope, Pennsylvania, presents two live presentations of “Losin’ IT!” by Grammy-nominated comedian-turned-life coach Lisa Lampanelli. The shows take place on Saturday, March 13, at 2 and 8 p.m.
“Losin’ It” is a collection of Lampanelli’s observations and real-life stories and, according to a BCP media release, “a departure from the insult comedy she’s long been known for” and “a humorous and heartfelt theatrical evening sharing her struggles with dieting and body image.”
In addition to losing and gaining more than 372 pounds over her life, Lampanelli has been part of the comedy stage and television circuit for 30 years.
The performances are part of BCP’s Visiting Artists Series and will be produced on stage for a limited socially distanced audience and in keeping with the theater’s active protocols including virus testing, mask requirements, HVAC filters, and sanitizing and cleaning.
“Losin’ It” with Lisa Lampanelli, Bucks County Playhouse,70 South Main Street, New Hope, PA, March 13, 2 and 8 p.m., $40. 215-862-2121 or www.buckscountyplayhouse.org.