This year’s Fall Arts Preview is new in a way no other in memory has been. Museums, theaters, concert halls, and other art venues have been closed by the pandemic.
And while a few museums and clubs have started to reopen, others are operating on standby, and the future of much of what had been taken granted is unclear.
When McCarter Theater’s new artistic director, Sarah Rasmussen says in the interview on page 14 she and her colleagues are facing “the unknown,” she is speaking for numerous others connected to venues and audiences.
That includes producers for regional theaters such as McCarter or Passage in Trenton as well as other offerings easily accessible from the Princeton area — even the legendary Broadway district in Manhattan experienced unprecedented closure that started in March and was extended to at least December.
Symphonic orchestras and other music venues likewise face the challenge of waiting for the all-clear sign to reopen their doors.
Yet that all-clear sign — or that magic bullet that makes audiences comfortable returning to performance venues — may be connected to an elusive vaccine or other viable indicators that the COVID-19 virus has been mitigated.
Until then it is not show business as usual, and new models will emerge.
Meanwhile, new art finds a way into the world. As U.S. 1 has been showing in its nearly weekly “Art of the Quarantine,” painters have been using the time to deal with our times through lines, color, and shapes while poets seized the moment in words.
Theater and musicians have also taken to using Zoom to explore a new type of expression. One that was prominent to us was the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra’s “Gratias Tibi” (We Thank You) created and conducted by NJSO’s youth orchestras conductor, composer José Luis Domínguez.
It couldn’t be more contemporary: The work was dedicated to the healthcare workers on the front line of the pandemic, was designed for isolated musicians who taped themselves visually and audibly performing their section, was “scored” by the composer with a technician, and then premiered online.
New visual art is also being produced this weekend when street artists who have been creating art for decades without the support of museums or galleries convene for the Jersey Fresh Jam at TerraCycle and take to the walls to paint mural-sized works — many filled with the sense of the moment.
This new generation of artists will focus and work with zeal to create the best work they can at the moment. Yet they will also know their work will not be sold and will be removed in the very near future.
As street — aka graffiti — artist Dean Innocenzi says in an interview in this week’s U.S. 1, page 12, it’s a natural phenomenon: art, like life, comes and goes.
So too events that wait for no all-clear signals and — as the past few months have demonstrated — can change what had been considered predictable and seemingly normal social patterns, including the way that art was created and presented.
That obviously has changed. The expectations of yesterday are no longer valid, and as this issues suggests, we have entered a very new and different art season.
But what has not changed is a social need for art — something that now may require a new attitude about how that art is created and presented.
It also suggests the need for a new way of thinking about how to support the human beings challenged to make the art that may just help us as we enter this brave new era.
For previews of what’s coming up in the worlds of music, theater, film, and art, see the Fall Arts Preview beginning on page 8.
Fall Is Coming, But Fiction Carries On
Summer may be coming to a close, but U.S. 1 remains committed to publishing original short stories and poems from writers and poets in the greater Princeton area.
To participate, submit your previously unpublished short story, play, or poem as soon as possible. Each writer is limited to two stories and five poems. Work will be considered for publication on a rolling basis. Please submit work by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Authors retain all rights.
Preference will be given to central New Jersey writers whose work addresses a theme or place relevant to the greater Princeton business community. Submissions from children are not encouraged.
Be sure to include a brief biographical summary with your submission, along with your name, address, and daytime phone number.